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10 Distracted Driving Statistics and Facts That All Drivers Must Know

March 03, 2020

Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving continues to be a threat to safety on today’s roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was directly responsible for some 3,450 deaths in 2016, and thousands more were injured.

Despite all the attention given to the dangers of distracted driving, statistics indicate that too many drivers aren’t taking these dangers seriously.

An increasing number of distractions are adding to the problem. While distracted driving is most often thought of as being related to cell phone use these days, there are many different types of distracted driving.

In fact, anything that takes your mind and focus away from driving is considered a distraction.

What Is Distracted Driving?

The NHTSA defines distracted driving as any non-driving activity that occurs behind the wheel, and identifies the three types of distracted driving as:

  • Visual, or taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual, or taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive, or taking your mind off driving

Any of these forms of distracted driving increase your risk and lower your level of safety.

No matter how safe a driver you are, you’re still affected by distracted driving. Although all of us are guilty of being distracted behind the wheel every now and then, you have a choice in how distracted you allow yourself to be.

You don’t even have to be the one who is distracted or careless behind the wheel.

Distracted drivers may cut you off in traffic, drift into your lane or take other unsafe actions that they’re often not even aware of.

distracted driving statistics

Distracted Driving Statistics and Facts

Part of knowing how to manage distracted driving is understanding how and when it happens. Let’s look at ten important distracted driving statistics and facts all drivers need to know before getting behind-the-wheel.

  1. More than 2.5 million people are involved in crashes each year, and distracted driving is the leading cause. By some estimates, as many as 1,000 people are injured every day in crashes related to distracted driving.
  2. Data suggests that deaths from traffic crashes are on the rise because of all of the distractions drivers deal with. Distractions inside the car give us too many things to look at (and listen to), from GPS devices and infotainment systems to cell phones and other electronics.
  3. Multitasking is a myth. Research shows that when you’re doing two things at once, your brain is actually just switching between tasks very rapidly. Every additional task you do while driving detracts from your ability to drive well and increases your chances of having a collision.
  4. It takes your brain up to 13 seconds to refocus on your surroundings after looking at your cell phone — even if you “only glanced at it for a second.” As your brain refocuses, your driving skills are not at their best.
  5. When you attempt to multitask while driving, your eye activity slows down and your problem-solving skills are diminished.
  6. 77 percent of vehicle crashes happen within 15 miles or less of your destination. When we get familiar with our surroundings, it’s not uncommon to relax and let our guard down. Doing this, however, makes you less alert to changes in your driving environment and more prone to distraction.
  7. A person who texts and drives is six times more likely to have a crash than someone who drives drunk.
  8. Eating while driving is riskier than talking on a cell phone. That’s because food can cause problems like spilling and leaks that demand your immediate attention and may cause you to take your eyes off the road. If you’re eating, you’re also taking at least one hand off the wheel, which makes you less able to react to driving situations.
  9. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 71% of large truck accidents occurred as the result of the driver doing something other than driving the truck.
  10. One study found that nearly 80% of crashes involved driver inattention in the three seconds just before the crash. The study also pointed to driver inattention as the leading factor in crashes and near-crashes.

woman driving while distracted checking phone

Practicing Safety When Those Around You Aren’t

Even if you are following all the proper guidelines for safety, it doesn’t mean that other drivers on the road with you are doing the same thing.

Learning and applying The Smith5Keys® helps drivers prepare and manage the dangerous actions of other drivers.

Want to learn more? With Smith System’s Driving Distracted video, drivers can learn how distracted driving affects their driving behavior and how to prepare for the actions of other distracted drivers around you.
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