Globally, every 25 seconds, a person dies in a motor vehicle crash (MVC) and 58 people get injured. Adding to the rising distracted-driving rates is the rapid growth of the number of cars in circulation globally. This study examined the proportion of distracted drivers among patients attending orthopaedic fracture clinics, as well as associated factors.
In this large, multicenter, cross-sectional study, we recruited 1,378 patients across 4 Canadian fracture clinics. Eligible patients completed an anonymous questionnaire about distracted driving. We calculated the percentages of specific distractions. Using questionnaire responses and published crash risk odds ratios (ORs), patients were grouped as distraction-prone and distraction-averse. Regression analyses to determine the association of demographic characteristics with distracting behaviors and the odds of being in a distraction-related crash were performed.
In total, 1,358 patients (99.7%) self-reported distracted driving. Prevalent distractions included talking to passengers (98.7%), distractions outside the vehicle (95.5%), listening to the radio (97.6%), adjusting the radio (93.8%), and daydreaming (61.2%). Of the 1,354 patients who acknowledged mobile phone distractions, 889 (65.7%) accepted phone calls and continued driving, 675 (49.8%) read electronic messages, and 475 (35.1%) sent electronic messages. Younger age (OR, 0.94 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.91 to 0.97]; p < 0.001) and household incomes of $80,000 to <$100,000 (OR, 1.92 [95% CI, 1.17 to 3.14]; p = 0.01) and ≥$100,000 (OR, 2.48 [95% CI, 1.57 to 3.91]; p < 0.001) were associated with being in the distraction-prone group. Distraction-prone patients were twice as likely to be in a distraction-related MVC (OR, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.43 to 2.74]; p < 0.001). Of 113 drivers who sustained injuries from MVCs, 20 (17.7%) acknowledged being distracted. Of 729 patients who reported being the driver in a previous MVC in their lifetime, 226 (31.0%) confirmed being distracted.
This survey-based study showed that driving distractions were near universally acknowledged. The pervasiveness of distractions held true even when only the more dangerous distractions were considered. One in 6 patients in MVCs reported being distracted in their current crash, and 1 in 3 patients disclosed being distracted in an MVC during their lifetime.