Our team reviewed the most recent data from the NHTSA, CDC, and NIH to find the latest and most useful research on distracted driving accidents in the United States.
Fatal Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
Across the United States, distracted driving is responsible for over 3,300 traffic fatalities and over 400,000 injuries every year.
In 2016, distracted driving was responsible for 3,450 traffic fatalities.
From 2015 to 2016, the number of traffic fatalities in collisions attributed to distracted driving decreased from 3,526 to 3,450, a decline of 2.2 percent. In 2016, distracted driving was responsible for 9.2 percent of all traffic deaths.
In 2016, approximately 9 percent of motor-vehicle collisions that resulted in at least one fatality reportedly involved distracted driving.
Almost one-third of all motorists throughout the United States who are between the ages of 18 and 64 send or read texts or emails while behind the wheel.
Motor-vehicle collisions involving a distracted driver were responsible for 3,477 traffic fatalities in 2015.
Motor-vehicle collisions involving a distracted driver were responsible for 3,179 traffic fatalities in 2014.
Motor-vehicle collisions involving a distracted driver were responsible for 3,154 traffic fatalities in 2013.
Motor-vehicle collisions involving a distracted driver were responsible for 3,328 traffic fatalities in 2012.
Motor-vehicle collisions involving a distracted driver were responsible for 3,331 traffic fatalities in 2011.
Across the United States, almost 9 people die and over 1,000 sustain injuries every day in collisions that reportedly involve a distracted motorist.
Distracted driving-related wrecks killed 562 cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-occupants in 2016.
Distracted driving-related wrecks killed 551 cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-occupants in 2015.
Distracted driving-related wrecks killed 520 cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-occupants in 2014.
In 2016, 14 percent of the fatal wrecks that were attributed to distracted driving—or 444 crashes—reportedly involved the use of a cell phone while behind the wheel.
In 2016, distracted driving-related wrecks involving cell phone use caused 486 fatalities.
Distracted Driving Injury Accident Statistics
In 2015, distracted driving-related wrecks left 391,000 people injured.
In 2014, distracted driving-related wrecks left 431,000 people injured.
In 2013, distracted driving-related wrecks left 424,000 people injured.
In 2012, distracted driving-related wrecks left 421,000 people injured.
In 2011, distracted driving-related wrecks left 387,000 people injured.
Teenager Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
New teen motorists are 8 times more likely to get into a crash or almost get into a crash when using a cell phone while behind the wheel than when they are focusing solely on the road. They are also 7 to 8 times more likely to get into a crash when reaching for their phone or some other object; nearly 4 times more likely when sending or reading a text message; and 3 times more likely when drinking or eating behind the wheel.
In a 2015 survey, 42 percent of those in high school who had driven in the past 30 days claimed to have sent an email or text message while behind the wheel.
Students who claim to text while behind the wheel on a regular basis are less likely to wear a safety belt, more likely to drive while impaired, and more likely to ride with someone who has been drinking.
About 9 percent of motorists between the ages of 15 and 19 who were involved in fatal collisions in 2016 were reportedly distracted at the time. This demographic has the highest proportion of motorists who were driving while distracted prior to being involved in a fatal wreck.
Collisions involving a distracted teen motorist—a driver between the ages of 15 and 19—were responsible for 339 traffic fatalities in 2016.
Distracted driving-related wrecks killed 263 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2016.
Of the teen motorists—drivers between the ages of 15 and 19—who were involved in fatal wrecks in 2016, 303 were distracted.
How Common Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents.
Motorists are distracted approximately 10 percent of the time when operating a vehicle.
In 2014, more than 16 percent of all motor-vehicle collisions could be attributed to distracted driving.
In 2015, about 14 percent of all reported collisions—including 10 percent of fatal wrecks and 15 percent of injury-causing crashes—were caused by inattention behind the wheel.
Most Common Driving Distractions
About 52 percent of the time, some kind of distraction is vying for a motorist’s attention. Some of the most common distractions include engaging with a teen or adult passenger (15 percent), using a phone (6 percent), and adjusting the radio, climate control, or other system (4 percent).
Using a phone or reaching for something is a greater distraction—and therefore poses a greater risk of causing a collision—than talking to a passenger or eating. Such actions are also more dangerous than drinking or smoking while behind the wheel.
Risks of Distracted Driving
Reading or typing a text message demands five seconds of your attention. If you are traveling 55 mph, that means you will end up driving the length of a football field without looking.
Humans are not adept at multitasking. Instead, people simply switch back and forth rapidly from one task to another. In other words, we cannot engage in two tasks that both demand our attention simultaneously. As you engage in more tasks or those you are completing become more demanding, it takes longer to switch and can lead to mental overload. As a result, psychologists have determined attempting to multitask actually reduces productivity. While switching tasks rapidly can be helpful in some circumstances, it can be dangerous when operating a motor vehicle.
A distracted driving-related collision at work that causes injury but not death costs employers an average of $72,442.