Learn the Facts About Distracted Driving

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention away from the primary task of driving.

Highway Fatalities:

  • There were 36,096 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019, which represented a 2% decrease from 2018 fatalities of 36,835. NHTSA
  • While 2020 figures are not yet available, the hope that fatalities would decrease in 2020 as compared with 2019, due to fewer miles driven during the pandemic, does not appear to have been realized. Early estimates from the NSC indicate that through the end of November 2020, 38,370 people had lost their lives in crashes. Accordingly, it is likely that when final fatality figures are provided for 2020 we will have lost more than 40,000 lives.

Distracted Driving:

  • 7% of all fatal crashes in 2019 were distraction-related resulting in 3,142 lives lost, an increase of 9.9% over 2018 when 2,858 lives were lost due to distracted driving. NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2019 (released December 2020)
  • Eight percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. About 400,000 were injured and 2,841 killed as a result of distraction-affected crashes. Traffic Safety facts April 2020, NHTSA
  • About 1 of every 5 people killed by distracted drivers in 2018 were not in vehicles-they were walking, riding bikes, or otherwise outside of vehicles. NHTSA
  • Distracted driving crashes are under-reported and the NSC estimates that cell phone use alone accounted for 27%  of 2015 car crashes. NSC
  • Research conducted by telematics and behavioral analytics company Cambridge Mobile Telematics shows distracted driving occurring in more than 36 percent of trips across the United States.
  • The fatal crash rate for teens is 3 times greater than for drivers age 20 and over (IIHS)
  • Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes.  AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
  • According to the CDC drivers aged 15-19 were more likely to be distracted than drivers aged 20 and older, among drivers in crashes where a death occurred. Nine percent of all teens who died in crashes were killed in distraction-affected crashes.

Three types of distractions:

Traffic safety experts classify distractions into three main types: Manual, Visual and Cognitive.

  • Manual distractions are those where you move your hands from the wheel.
  • Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road.
  • A cognitive distraction is when you’re mind wanders away from the task of driving.

Texting involves all three types of distraction.

Cell Phone Use:

  • People are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08%.   University of Utah
  • Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers. University of Utah
  • Text messaging for commercial drivers increases the risk of crash or near-crash by 23 times.  Virginia Technical Transportation Institute, USDOT
  • Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph NHTSA

Drivers are not taking this seriously enough:

  •  Over 84% of drivers recognize the danger from cell phone distractions and find it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send an email while driving. Nevertheless, 36% of these same people admit to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in the previous month. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Teens whose parents drive distracted are 2 to 4 times as likely to also drive distracted. 

Visit our Research and Statistics page to learn more. 

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