Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics

Every day over a dozen people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in distracted driving accidents nationwide. Driving while distracted has risen to epidemic proportions in the Washington DC area and nationwide.

Driver distraction is such a common occurrence that many of us engage in this unsafe practice on a daily basis, unaware of the dangers. Using a cell phone, combing your hair, reading a roadmap or other text materials, using GPS navigational systems, eating, texting, or even talking to a passenger — all of these may fall into the category of distracted driving, and all can cause accidents that result in serious injury or death.

The statistics on distracted driving reveal shocking facts about this growing trend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states in a report that almost 10 percent of drivers admit to being distracted by mobile digital devices on a regular basis. The various distractions they engage in include texting, making and receiving calls, and checking and sending emails – all while behind the wheel.

Distracted Driving Injuries and Deaths Nationwide

There has been a significant uptick in distracted driver accidents in recent years. Drivers of all ages use cell phones and other digital devices while behind the wheel, and having a phone conversation or checking a text message has become the norm for many motorists – despite clear evidence of the dangers of driving while distracted.

Distracted Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes (2012)

Fatal crashes Percentage of collisions Drivers in fatal crashes Percentage of total drivers Deaths in fatal accidents Percentage of total fatalities
Total 30,800 45,337 33,561
Distraction-affected 3,050 10% of total crashes 3,119 7% of total drivers 3,328 10% of total fatalities
Cell phone in use 378 12% of distraction-affected crashes 394 13% of distracted drivers 415 12% of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes

Source: NHTSA

Statistics indicate that both drivers and pedestrians are at high risk in Washington DC A recent study by Howard University evaluated data to determine the impact of distracted driving on the number of crashes in the D.C. area.

Distraction Fatalities Injuries Property Damage Only Total by Type of Distraction
Cell phone (handheld) 0 46 75 121
Cell phone (hands-free) 0 10 21 31
Distracted by passengers 1 32 48 81
Eating 0 3 10 13
Interacting with pets 0 7 4 11
Interacting with unsecured cargo 0 13 9 22
Other 2 593 996 1,591
Grooming 0 2 5 7
Reading 0 6 16 22
Using digital communication devices 0 10 27 37
Writing 0 1 2 3
TOTAL 3 723 1,213 1,939

Preventing Distracted Driving: Keep D.C. Streets Safe

image_02Knowledge is your best defense. Be aware of the drivers around you – some of them are not paying attention to the traffic around them. Drop back, change lanes or take other safe evasive actions. Defensive driving can prevent a crash. Knowing the basics of distracted driving can save your life and the lives of others.

There are three main types of distracted driving known to lead to serious or fatal injury car crashes:

  • Visual – Anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road. Examples include entering a phone number on your cell phone, reading or typing a text message, looking at yourself in the mirror and turning around to check on a child in the backseat.
  • Manual – Anything that causes you to remove your hands from the steering wheel, such as eating, answering your cell phone or writing yourself a quick note.
  • Cognitive – Anything that causes your attentiveness to the task of driving to decrease, such as an upset child in the car, feeling tired or simply not paying attention to your surroundings.

Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

You don’t want to become one of the many distracted drivers who are responsible for serious or deadly accidents. You may have developed a few bad habits that you can make a concerted effort to change so you do not contribute to this nationwide epidemic.

Here are a few tips for avoiding driving while distracted:

  • Silence your cell phone while you are driving. If you cannot avoid reading text messages, download an app that will read your text messages to you. The best way to avoid an accident is to avoid using your cell phone at all. For any serious conversations that could take the majority of your attention, pull over and stop in a safe place.
  • Take breaks on long trips. Stop, look around and take a breather. The longer the trip, the more breaks you need to plan to take while en route.
  • If you use GPS navigation, enter the destination before driving or ask a passenger to do it for you. If you need to change the destination, pull over to do so – don’t attempt to do it while in motion.
  • When traveling with young children, make sure you have plenty of items that will keep them busy, including books, snacks, videos, games, etc. When they need a break, stop and give them a break.
  • Eat before you take to the road, rather than hitting a drive-through or getting takeout food so you avoid eating while driving.

Legislators in D.C. have passed laws to reduce the numbers of distracted driving accidents, but no law is effective if ignored. The facts about distracted driving have been brought to the attention of the public through all types of media, at schools and in driving classes.

Nonetheless, the numbers continue to rise. You can be part of the solution through your own actions.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, connect with the professionals at The Abelson Law Firm in Washington DC The firm offers a free consultation to assist you. We focus on cases involving serious injuries or wrongful death. The lead attorney, Michael Abelson, has the highest possible peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent® in personal injury law.

Contact us through our online form or call us now.

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