We face serious risks every time we get behind the wheel. Motor vehicle accidents happen every day around the country. You can be hit head-on, rear-ended, or t-boned in an accident that lasts only seconds.
Distracted drivers are one of the primary causes of the accidents we see around the U.S.A. Tremendous number of wrecks are caused by drivers who take their eyes and attention off the road. Let’s go over some distracted driving statistics and facts as well as ways to reduce the risks associated with the biggest danger on the road.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs anytime a motor vehicle operator stops paying attention to the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several primary types of distraction, including:
Drivers are visually distracted when they look away from the road, perhaps at a cellphone or the radio. Manually distracted drivers take their hands off the wheel. Finally, drivers with a cognitive distraction take their mind off the road.
Any form of distracted driving can be deadly.
How Dangerous is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving costs thousands of people their lives every year. In fact, from 2010 to 2015, the U.S. saw the following injuries and fatalities in distracted driving accidents:
- 2010: 416,003 Injuries and 3,092 Fatalities
- 2011: 387,000 Injuries and 3,331 Fatalities
- 2012: 421,000 Injuries and 3,328 Fatalities
- 2013: 424,000 Injuries and 3,154 Fatalities
- 2014: 431,000 Injuries and 3,179 Fatalities
- 2015: 391,000 Injuries and 3,477 Fatalities
An additional 3,450 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
These distracted driving statistics become even more serious when you consider that distracted driving caused 9% of all traffic fatalities in 2016. Anyone on the road can be a victim of a distracted driving crash. In fact, in 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) reported the following fatalities:
- Drivers: 2,122
- Passengers: 804
- Pedestrians: 443
- Cyclists: 79
- Other: 29
The NHTSA even reported on the number of people injured by distracted driving accidents involving cell-phones, providing the following information on cell-phone related collisions in:
- 2011: 21,000 People Were Injured
- 2012: 28,000 People Were Injured
- 2013: 34,000 People Were Injured
- 2014: 33,000 People Were Injured
- 2015: 30,000 People Were Injured
The wide-spread dangers of distracted driving make it incredibly important that individuals behind the wheel always stay focused while operating a motor vehicle.
What Causes Distracted Driving?
There are many different distractions in the world around us. Drivers can be distracted if they are:
- Eating or Drinking
- Talking to Passengers
- Changing the Radio or Temperature
Of course, cellphone use is one of the major factors that lead to distracted drivers. Drivers who are reading or writing texts take their attention away from the road for at least five seconds at a time, per the NHTSA’s information on distracted driving statistics. Even answering a call can shift a driver’s focus away from the road.
The USDOT reported that 14% of all distracted driving crashes in 2015 involved cellphone usage. Age and experience levels also play a role in distracted driving accidents. The NHTSA reported the following breakdown:
- 27% of Distracted Drivers Were 20-29
- 19% of Distracted Drivers Were 30-39
- 15% of Distracted Drivers Were 40-49
- 12% of Distracted Drivers Were 50-59
- 9% of Distracted Drivers Were 15-19
- 9% of Distracted Drivers Were 70+
- 8% of Distracted Drivers Were 60-69
Of drivers who were distracted by cellphones:
- 33% Were 20-29
- 22% Were 30-39
- 14% Were 15-19
- 14% Were 40-49
- 11% Were 50-59
- 3% Were 60-69
- 3% Were 70+
Drivers from 15-19 make up a small percentage (7%) of the total drivers on the road. This means that, while they were only involved in 9% of distracted driving accidents, they are more likely to cause collisions while distracted.
Additionally, drivers under 20 who text and drive are more likely to display other risky driving behavior. According to the CDC, these drivers are more likely to:
- Drive Without a Seatbelt
- Drink and Drink
- Drive with Someone Else Who is Drinking
How Can We Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents?
Distracted driving statistics show that this behavior poses a huge risk to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Many states are taking steps to reduce distracted driving wrecks by passing laws forbidding the usage of cell-phones and other electronic devices. The CDC reported that by 2017:
- 46 States and the District of Columbia Banned Texting and Driving
- 14 States and the District of Columbia Banned the Use of Hand-Held Phones
Organizations like the NHTSA work to increase awareness of the risks of distracted driving through campaigns. As more drivers become aware of the risks associated with distracted driving, there is hope that the injuries and deaths associated with distracted driving accidents will decrease.
Drivers can limit the risks of a distracted driving accident by working to stay focused on the road. Make the decision to ignore your phone while you’re behind the wheel. Avoid distracting activities like eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio.
The roads can be safer for everyone if drivers keep 100% of their attention on the operation of their vehicles, avoiding one of the biggest dangers on the road.