The Epidemic of Distracted Driving in the United States

Auto Accident

By Avon Alexander.

Distracted driving has become one of the most common causes of car crashes in the United States over the last several years, particularly with our increased reliance on cell phones. But drivers don’t need a cell phone to be distracted behind the wheel. Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as any activity that has the potential to “divert a person’s attention away from the task of driving.”

Some of the most common kinds of distractions that people encounter while driving include:

  • Putting on makeup or other personal grooming tasks

  • Talking on a cell phone

  • Texting

  • Reading maps or other materials

  • Using a navigation system

  • Adjusting a music playing device or volume control

  • Eating and drinking

  • Dealing with unruly children

Distracted driving, regardless of the form it takes, causes car crashes. The facts about distracted driving are evidence of the problem that it has become in the United States recently.

  • According to the NHTSA, in 2012 more than 420,000 people suffered injuries in car crashes that were the direct result of a distracted driver. That is an increase of 9 percent over the previous year.

  • In 2012, there were more than 3,300 fatalities in the United States that were caused by car crashes resulting from distracted driving.

  • Fully 10 percent of all drivers age 20 or younger who were involved in fatal car crashes in 2012 were reported as having been distracted when the crash occurred.

  • According to the NHTSA, 27 percent of all distracted drivers who are involved in fatal car crashes are in their 20s.

  • According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), at any given moment during daylight hours in the United States, there are about 660,000 drivers who are using cell phone or otherwise manipulating some form of electronic device while driving.


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