Distracted Driving- including the use of cell phones - is a major contributor to automobile crashes. New research findings by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), shows that nearly 5,474 people died in 2009 were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.
While these numbers are significant, they may not state the true size of the problem, since the identification of distraction and its role in the crash by law enforcement can be very difficult.
AAA has worked out a ten-point plan to help address this issue. But the best advice is to avoid distractions whenever possible.
Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts
Drive Safer, Talk Later
- 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. (NHTSA)
- Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashed, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). (NHTSA)
- The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (NHTSA)
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's (University of Utah)
Driver distractions are nothing new. They've been a topic of discussion since windshield wipers were introduced in cars during the early 1900s. Using a cellular phone while driving can increase your chances of being involved in a crash. But research shows other distractions such as eating a sandwich, tending to small children, conversing with a passenger or gazing at objects outside the vehicle occur more frequently and can be just as distracting as talking on a cell phone.
Download our additional traffic safety resources for more information on distracted driving.