On April 5, 2016, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), together with several other traffic safety boards and office, kicked off Distracted Driver Awareness Month, in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
Distracted driving is defined as the inattention of drivers while they are operating a motor vehicle. When a driver’s attention is diverted from driving, and instead, is focused on something else, they become distracted and pose a serious risk to themselves, other motorists, and pedestrians.
A motorist can become distracted for a number of reasons. Common distractions include:
- Text messaging
- Talking on the phone
- Adjusting the radio
- Adjusting the heat and/or air conditioner
- Talking to a passenger
Distracted Driving Statistics
A distracted driving crash is classified as any crash that occurs as a result of a driver being distracted. The statistics surrounding these types of crashes are startling.
- In 2014, 10% of all fatal crashes, 18% of all injury crashes, and 16% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes were the result of distracted driving.
- A total of 3,179 people died, and approximately 431,000 suffered injuries as a result of in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2014.
- 10% of drivers between 15 and 19 years old who were involved in a fatal crash were distracted when the crash happened. Additionally, this age group has the largest number of drivers who were distracted when crashes occurred.
- A total of 520 nonoccupants were killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2014.
- In 2014, a total of 385 fatal crashes were reportedly caused by drivers who were using cell phones. These drivers were talking on, listening to, or otherwise manipulating (texting, for example,) their cell phones when the crash occurred.
Though other activities can certainly distract a driver, cell phones are the top distraction, and the leading cause of distracted driver crashes. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Director Rhonda Craft, the evidence clearly shows that crashes are up and that the evidence illustrates that cell phone use is the primary cause of accidents.
The NHTSA hopes to raise awareness of the implications of distracted driving, and Distracted Driving Awareness Month is just one of their many efforts to reduce distracted driving and improve safety, overall, on the road.
The statistics on distracted driving serve to remind us of the importance of safety behind the wheel, and also the necessity of auto insurance.