View Our Practice Areas

Study: Car passengers are more distracting than you think

Passengers in a vehicle may be more distracting to drivers in Connecticut than you may think.

When you think of distracted driving, you probably picture someone on his or her phone, texting away while behind the wheel. In recent years, there has been a big push in Connecticut to address cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle, and rightfully so. After all, the behavior is more than just dangerous - it is deadly.

But there are many more distractions besides using a phone. In fact, one of the most common ways for a driver to lose focus is one that may surprise you: talking to a passenger.

By the numbers

The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration released a report in 2010 that noted that of all the sources of internal distractions - such as using a phone, eating and adjusting the radio - talking to a passenger in the vehicle was the most commonly cited factor in a sample of automobile crashes under review. The NHTSA estimates that this behavior took place in approximately 16 percent of the incidents studied.

Teenage drivers

More recently, the NHTSA took a look at how having passengers in the car affects teenage drivers. According to the organization, when even just one passenger is in the vehicle, a teen driver is two-and-a-half times more likely to take part in some type of risky behavior, such as speeding. If there are two or more passengers, that risk factor jumps up to three times as likely.

Examining the issue

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did a deep dive in 2014 into distracted driving. Researchers measured the secondary activities that motorists engage in while driving and found that cellphone use actually fell behind interacting with a passenger. Drivers were found to be talking with a passenger nearly 12 percent of the time, and talking on a cellphone only 6.5 percent of the time.

One of the study's authors noted that by focusing mainly on cellphone use, there is a risk that we are ignoring the other potentially dangerous behaviors drivers engage in. Also, the study found that generally, drivers were actually more attentive while on the phone than while interacting with a passenger. Motorists using a cellphone were found to drive an average of 5 to 6 miles an hour slower, while motorists talking to other people in the car were not slowing down.

The takeaway from all this should be that doing essentially anything other than focusing on the road is potentially harmful. Connecticut law already prohibits people from using handheld devices while behind the wheel. Although passenger interaction may never be outlawed, drivers should be aware of how risky it could be.

Anyone who has questions about this issue should speak with a personal injury attorney in Connecticut.

Email Us For A Response
    • Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
    • 2018 Avvo Client Choice Award
    • Avvo Rated Best Attorney
    • Expertise 2020
    • National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers
    • Lawyers Of Distinction 2019
    • 2020 10 Best Connecticut Attorney in Client Satisfaction
    • 10 Best 2015 - Client Satisfaction - American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys (TM)
    • 2015 Top 10 Best Connecticut Law Firms
    • 10 Best 2015 - Client Satisfaction - 10 Best Law Firms - American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys (TM)
    • 15 Years | Marquis Who's Who | Marquis Who's Who in American Law | Marquis Who's Who in America | Marquis Who's Who In the World | Marquis Who's Who In the Finance and Industry
    • Avvo - Rate your Lawyer. Get Free Legal Advice

*AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

*AV Preeminent and BV Distinguished are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

Contact The Law Offices Of James L. O'Rourke Today

If you have been injured in an accident, our experienced personal injury attorneys will help you pursue the full compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call 203-864-4427. We are ready to take your call 24/7. Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request, as are home or hospital room visits. Spanish translation services are available.

Office Law Offices of James L. O'Rourke

Stratford Office
1825 Barnum Avenue, Suite 201
Stratford, CT 06614

Toll Free: 800-658-1245
Phone: 203-864-4427
Fax: 203-377-2770
Stratford Law Office Map

Shelton Office
221 Nells Rock Road
Shelton, CT 06484

Toll Free: 800-658-1245
Phone: 203-864-4427
Fax: 203-377-2770
Shelton Law Office Map