Troubling Statistics About the Dangers of Distracted Driving


Just about everyone can agree that driving while distracted is one of the most dangerous things a person can do behind the wheel. However, despite this almost universal admission, the practice is nevertheless extremely pervasive and on the rise. To gain a sense of just how serious the situation is we gathered data from several key governmental agencies that track the information.


  • 3300 – The number of deaths in 2012 attributed to distracted driving according to a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • 421,000 – The number of non-fatal injuries in 2012 in which distracted driving played a role.
  • 660,000 – The number of American drivers that the DOT estimates are using their cell phones while driving at any given time.
  • 71% – The percentage of US teens that admit to having written and sent a text while driving according to a survey conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • 78% – The percentage of US Teens that have read a text message while driving according to the same report by the NHTSA.
  • $69,000 – The estimated financial costs per accident of work-related motor vehicle accidents as provided by the National Safety Council.


The above statistics are so alarming that just about any reader will want to know what is leading to this deadly behavior. The fact is that distracted driving can take a wide variety of forms; including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Texting
  • Browsing the internet on a smartphone
  • Having a phone conversation – both hand-held and hands-free.
  • Using a GPS device
  • Adjusting the radio or stereo system
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Reading
  • Applying make up
  • Changing clothes
  • “Rubbernecking” to look at traffic incidents
  • Focusing too much attention on car passengers
  • Much more

While any one of these things alone can be deadly, they are particularly common when they occur in conjunction with each other, compounding distraction exponentially. Furthermore, while distracted driving has always been a problem, there is no denying the fact that the problem has only worsened with the proliferation of cell phones and particularly smartphones. As most people will recognize, texting while driving is both dangerous and disturbingly common.


There are a number of proposed technological solutions to distracted driving. For example, some GPS devices can detect when the car is moving and the driver is trying to input new commands. The device responds by deactivating and only working once the car is stopped. Likewise, some cell phone companies have an option for customers to disable their own phones, or those of their children, while the car is in motion. Another emerging technological development, that of “driverless cars” designed to function safely without the driver’s attention, may hold the ultimate tech solution to distracted driving. However, these “smart cars” are likely still decades away from becoming a reality for the average driver.

Another possible solution is hinted at above with the example of less than 30% of Traveler’s Insurance’s corporate customers having a strictly enforced policy against distracted driving. Similarly, just as the threat of being fired or facing professional penalties may stop some would-be distracted drivers, so too do legal ramifications. More and more states are enacting serious fines and penalties for drivers caught texting, talking, or otherwise behaving irresponsibly while driving.


Perhaps the most effective way to reduce the number of distracted drivers behind the wheel is by changing the underlying attitudes that lead to such behavior in the first place. Just as awareness campaigns have turned the tide against drinking and driving, so too can these campaigns be effective against distracted driving. The campaigns make a difference by encouraging all drivers and passengers to speak up when they see someone behaving irresponsibly.

The sad fact, however, is that all too many innocent people are severely injured or even killed as a result of distracted driving. If this terrible tragedy has befallen you or someone you love there is one final, effective way to send a message that actions have consequences: civil lawsuits. Suing for damages is both an effective way to alleviate some of the financial burden caused by a costly accident as well as a deterrent against that person, and others who learn of the suit, from continuing their reckless, deadly behavior.

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