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Distracted Driving Statistics: How Common is the Problem?

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The Top 20 Distracted Driving Statistics to Help Keep You Safe

The Top 20 Distracted Driving Statistics to Help Keep You Safe

Nov 4, 2021

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from the act of driving. Distracted driving can include texting on your phone, eating and drinking, adjusting the stereo/navigation or climate controls within your vehicle, talking to passengers, or simply daydreaming or taking your eyes off the road momentarily. When you drive while distracted, the chance of a car accident occurring is significantly increased.

Texting is considered one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving. When you send or read a text while behind the wheel, the NHTSA estimates that the act takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. If your vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Below we will review how prevalent the issue of distracted driving is in the U.S., examine some important distracted driving statistics, and discuss how you can file a personal injury lawsuit in pursuit of financial compensation in the event of a car accident caused by a distracted driver.

How Dangerous is Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA estimates that 3,142 deaths occurred in 2019 as a result of distracted driving. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around eight people are killed every day as a result of distracted drivers.

Furthermore, CDC data indicates that approximately one in five individuals who were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2018 were not in vehicles. Rather, these tragic cases involved people walking, riding bikes, or otherwise outside of a vehicle when the fatal distracted driving collisions occurred.

Types of Distracted Driving

The CDC have provided three categories indicating the most common types of driving distraction:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving

Additionally, CDC data from 2018 indicates that approximately 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving car accidents.

Our experienced attorneys can help you pursue a financial award for your personal injury case. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation today.

The Top 20 Distracted Driving Statistics

The Top 20 Distracted Driving Statistics

  1. Teens and young people are at higher risk for distracted driving accidents. CDC data indicates that 25% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018 were young adults between the ages of 20 and 29. Additionally, when a fatality occurred, drivers ages 15 to 19 were more likely to have been driving distracted than those 20 and older (8% of drivers ages 15 to 19 were distracted at the time of a fatal car accident). And 9% of all teens who died in car accidents where distracted at the time of the crash.
  2. The NHTSA estimates that approximately 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while behind the wheel. When you stop to consider the number of distracted drivers and the impact it could have on you – even if you’re driving safely – the statistic is rightly concerning.
  3. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that in 2009, 71% of large truck accidents were caused as a result of the truck driver doing something besides safely operating the vehicle (i.e. distracted driving).
  4. The FMCSA issued data from 2006 indicating that driver inattention was the leading factor in both motor vehicle crashes and near-crashes for that particular year. According to the study, 80% of crashes involved a form of driver inattention or distraction in the three seconds leading up to a car crash or near-crash.
  5. In 2019, the NHTSA estimates that 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes involved distracted driving. This is a tragic statistic given that texting while driving and other types of inattention behind the wheel are entirely preventable.
  6. According to TeenDriverSource (an affiliate of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), the 3,142 distracted driving deaths that occurred in 2019 represented a 10% increase from the previous year. But a more sobering statistic provided by the organization indicates that in 2019, 39% of high school students reported texting or emailing while driving in the past month alone.
  7. TeenDriverSource also reports that young adults (those ages 18 to 24) who self-report cell phone use while driving are more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights, and impatiently passing a car in front on the right.
  8. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that new technology such as vehicle infotainment systems actually create more distractions for drivers behind the wheel and could potentially increase the risk for distracted driving car accidents. The study also indicates that new vehicle infotainment systems take drivers’ eyes and attention off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially dangerous periods of time.
  9. That same AAA study confirmed that the act of programming a vehicle’s navigation system is actually the most distracting task, requiring an average of 40 seconds for a driver to successfully complete. If this action is attempted while driving, the potential for a distracted driving car accident is significantly increased.
  10. A 2019 Harris Poll conducted for Root Insurance confirmed that two out of every five Americans have actually shopped on their cell phones or tablets while behind the wheel. That means 39% of drivers admitted to shopping on mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle in 2019 (up from 35% in 2018).
  11. Additionally, that same Harris Poll confirmed that holiday shopping on mobile devices while behind the wheel is a staggering problem. According to the study’s data, 46% of those who admitted to driving while shopping reported that they were browsing during the holiday season, while 45% said they were checking the status of an order, 40% were looking into the availability of an in-store item, 36% were hunting for coupons or deals, and 33% were making purchase at checkout – all while operating a motor vehicle.
  12. Between 2012 and 2017 alone, the NHTSA estimates that nearly 200,000 people were killed in the U.S. as a result of distracted driving.
  13. The NHTSA also estimates that 20% of all bodily injuries resulting from car accidents are actually due to distracted drivers.
  14. When behind the wheel, the NHTSA estimates that drivers are distracted by cell phones 10% of the time.
  15. Data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) confirms that 48 states (as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) ban text messaging for all drivers. All but three have primary enforcement. Of the two states without an all-driver texting ban, one prohibits text messaging by novice drivers. Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. For a complete list of state-by-state distracted driving laws provided by the GHSA, click here.
  16. The GHSA also confirms that 24 states (as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws – meaning that a law enforcement officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cellphone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  17. Additionally, the GHSA confirms that no state fully bans all cellphone use for all drivers. However, 37 states and Washington D.C. ban all cellphone use by novice drivers (teenagers), and 23 states and Washington D.C. prohibit such use for school bus drivers.
  18. According to Advantage Insurance Solutions, approximately 2.5 million people are involved in car accidents every year, with distracted driving being the leading cause. This means that around 1,000 people are injured in a distracted driving-related crash every day.
  19. A report from National Public Radio (NPR) offered data from a study indicating that the idea of humans being able to successfully multitask is actually a myth. According to the data, humans are not able to do lots of things simultaneously. Instead, we switch our attention from task-to-task extremely quickly. If the findings are correct, it could have serious implications for distracted driving – even for seemingly safe and acceptable acts like changing the radio or looking in the vanity mirror for a split second.
  20. Data provided by the NHTSA indicates that 8% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. Additionally, in 2018, there were 2,841 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

If you believe you have a personal injury case and wish to pursue a claim, don’t hesitate to contact our award-winning expert attorneys online or by phone today.

What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?

What Should I Do if I'm Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?

The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University confirms that approximately 90% of car accidents are a result (at least in part) of human error. If you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence or carelessness, you may be facing considerable medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But you also may be entitled to substantial financial compensation through a car accident injury lawsuit.

By filing a personal injury civil claim, you can fight to recover financial compensation for various types of losses sustained through your car accident. Some common damages that may be recoverable after a car accident injury include:

  • Hospital and medical bills
  • Physical therapy expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Emotional trauma
  • Reduced quality of life

The experienced and proven car accident lawyers at Dordulian Law Group are standing by to fight to recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injury. We’re led by former Deputy District Attorney Sam Dordulian, and have successfully recovered over $100 million in settlements and verdicts for injured car accident victims like you.

To arrange for a free, confidential, and no obligation with a Dordulian Law Group California car accident attorney, contact us online or by phone at 818-322-4056.


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