Every day in the United States, about nine people are killed in motor vehicle accidents blamed on distracted drivers. In 2017, the yearly total was 3,166 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Looked at another way, 9 percent of fatal crashes involved a distracted driver who was focused on something other than driving — most often talking or texting on a cellphone (accounting for 14 percent of all distracted-driver fatalities in 2017), but sometimes eating, talking to passengers, fiddling with the radio or adjusting fan and temperature controls.
Among those who died as a result of these accidents were 599 pedestrians, bicyclists or others not in the vehicle with the distracted driver. According to NHTSA’s data, people in their 20s represent the largest group of drivers in fatal crashes (23 percent), and even larger percentages of distracted drivers in fatal crashes (27 percent) and drivers distracted by cellphone use (37 percent).
Looking at cellphone-related distractions, new survey data on parents’ driving habits, published in JAMA Pediatrics, show that most parents had read texts (68 percent) or written texts (54 percent) while driving in the past month. More millennials (born from 1981 to 1996, and averaging age 33 at the time of the survey) than older parents (44 years, on average) said they had read texts (42 percent vs. 28 percent) or written texts (20 percent vs. 14 percent). The researchers noted that only a few parents said they used an app to restrict texting while driving.