The Facts

12 December 2012
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Accidents caused by distracted driving are particularly tragic, because of how avoidable they are.
If all drivers kept in mind that every time they pick up their phone to take a call or send a text message, they are simultaneously endangering their own and others' lives, accidents may be less prone to happen. Unfortunately, the casualness of a call or text misleadingly prompts drivers to think themselves the rare exception.

Below are some facts which illustrate the reality.

What classifies as "distracted driving"?

Driving while performing any other activity which takes your attention away, for any period of time, from the task of driving.

What are the types of distracted driving?

Distracted driving behaviors can be divided into three categories.

  • Visual - Distractions that take your eyes off the road. 
  • Manual - Distractions that take your hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive - Distractions that take your mind off the task of driving.

Examples include eating while driving, talking on the phone while driving, listening to the radio, and texting. The more types that occur, the more potentially dangerous a situation you're in.


Additional Facts

Over 2.5 million people in the U.S. are involved in road accidents each year. The population of the US is just 318.9 million. At this rate, the American people could be extinct in two human lifespans. This is an astounding number of traffic accidents.

Of these, 1.6 million have a cell phone involved in them. That’s 64% of all the road accidents in the United States. Over half the road accidents in the States have cell phones involved, and if this doesn’t make you realize just how potent it is, what will?

37,000+ people die in automobile crashes in the U.S every year

Every year, about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that have involved a driver who was distracted in some way.

Each year, over 330,000 accidents caused by texting while driving lead to severe injuries. This means that over 78% of all distracted drivers are distracted because they have been texting while driving.

1 out of 4 car accidents in the US are caused by texting while driving.

Texting and driving is 6 times more likely to get you in an accident than drunk driving. That’s right, it is actually safer for someone to get wasted and get behind the wheel than to text and do it.

It takes an average of three seconds after a driver’s mind is taken off the road for any road accident to occur. This is the bare minimum amount of time it takes, and it is surprisingly small. Three seconds is the time it takes to turn your ignition when starting your car.

Reading a text message while driving successfully distracts a driver for a minimum of five seconds each time. This means that the chances of an accident occurring while reading a text is extremely high indeed.

The average speed in the US is about 55mph. Taking five seconds to read a text in this time means that the driver travels the length of a football field without looking at the road, or being distracted. There are so many vehicles on the road now that this means there is a huge chance of something terrible happening in this distance.

When you text while driving, the time that you spend with your eyes off the road increases by about 400%. It is already dangerous enough to be distracted by NATURE while driving. So why make things 4 times as bad by texting?

The chances of a crash because of any reason is increased by 23 times when you are texting. Even if the crash is another driver’s fault, you will probably have been able to avoid it if you had been looking at the road instead of the phone.

When you compare this to the 2.8 times more risk that dialing a number on a phone imparts, you know that you are playing with fire.

Every day, 11 teenagers die because they were texting while driving.

94% of teenagers understand the consequences of texting and driving, but 35% of them admitted that they do it anyway.

Of all the teenagers ever involved in fatal accidents every year, 21% were using a cell phone at the time of the accident.

Teen drivers have a 400% higher chance of being in a car crash when texting while driving than adults.

25% of teens respond to at least one text while driving, every single time.

10% of adults and 20% of teenagers have admitted that they have entire conversations over text message platforms while driving.

82% of American teenagers own a cell phone, and use it regularly to call and text message.

52% of these talk on the phone while driving, and 32% text on the road.

When polled, 77% of adults and 55% of teenage drivers say that they can easily manage texting while driving.

When teens text while they drive, they veer off lane 10% of their total drive time.

A study at the University of Utah found out that the reaction time for a teen using a cell phone is the same as that of a 70 year old who isn’t using one.

48% of kids in their younger teenage years have been in a car while the driver was texting. Over 1600 children in the same age group are killed each year because of crashes involving texters.

I want thank the people at ICEBIKE.ORG for sending me over these statistics and the original article published on their site that included them.  To read the original article with these statistics, click here.


21% of all crashes (1.1 million) involved people talking on cell phones, either with or without hand-free functionality.

3% of all crashes (160,000) involved texting.

24% of the crashes in 2010 involved cell phones.

In a study conducted by AAA where cameras were installed in cars for 6 months at a time, they were able to capture 52 different teenagers for a total of 7858 usable video clips.

In these clips they say that 47% of the distracted drivers looked away from the road, an average of 1.5 seconds, 12% for 4 or more seconds.

A car moving 55 mph will travel 100 yards (the length of a football field) in approximately 4 seconds.

Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

According to a PEW study, in 2012:

  • 3092 people were killed in crashes with a distracted driver (8-9/day)
  • 416,000 people were injured in accidents where the driver was reportedly distracted
  • 11% of all divers under the age of 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident
(Sources: National Safety Council, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety,