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Distracted Driving

Resources on the topic of Distracted Driving, including the latest statistics and laws. It is intended as a starting point for those researching this topic.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Additional Information

Young Adult and Teen Drivers:

  • Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
  • CDC’s national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors health-risk behaviors among high school students, including sending texts while driving. Recent YRBSS findings include:
    • In 2015, 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days reported sending a text or email while driving.
    • Students who reported frequent texting while driving were:
      • Less likely to wear a seatbelt.
      • More likely to ride with a driver who had been drinking.
      • More likely to drink and drive.

Centers for Disease Control

Teen Driver Cell Phone Statistics:

 According to a AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving but 35% admitted to doing it anyway. 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.

National Safety Council

 

US Deaths

In 2015, 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.

US Injuries

In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

 
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Distracted Driving Deaths  3,092 3,331 3,328 3,154 3,179 3,477
All Motor Vehicle Deaths  32,999 32,479 33,782 32,894 32,744 35,092
Distracted Driving Injuries  416,000 387,000 421,000 424,000 431,000 391,000
All Motor Vehicle Injuries  2,239,000 2,217,000 2,362,000 2,313,000 2,338,000 2,443,000

Source: National Center for Statistics and Analysis

Some Statistics:

  • The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
  • Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
  • 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk.
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to travel the length of a football field.
  • Texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
  • Of all cell phone related tasks, texting is by far the most dangerous activity.
  • 94 percent of drivers support a ban on texting while driving.
  • 74 percent of drivers support a ban on hand-held cell phone use.

National Safety Council

In Nebraska in 2015, of the 160 traffic crashes involving cell phone distractions 43 were teen drivers and 117 were other drivers.Over the last 10 years, on average, Nebraska drivers aged 15-19 have been involved in 43 cell phone distraction crashes per year. On average, Nebraska has had more than 3,600 distracted driving crashes per year over the last 10 years.

Distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. Distracted driving accounted for approximately 10% of the total traffic crashes in Nebraska for 2015. Over the last three years, the number of Nebraska drivers involved in distracted driving crashes has increased by nearly 20%. There were 4,402 Nebraska drivers involved in distracted driving crashes in 2015 the highest number in the last 10 years.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

 

  • Many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers—to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to help prevent it from occurring. However, the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on decreasing distracted driving-related crashes requires further study. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety keeps track of distracted driving laws. 
  • Nebraska is one of 46 states and the District of Columbia that instituted an all driver texting ban. Depending on the state, these laws are either enforced as primary or secondary. In 2015, Nebraska had 4,402 reported distracted driving crashes 12 of these were fatal. Nebraska law prohibits the use of a handheld wireless device to read, write, or send communication while operating a motor vehicle. Nebraska joins four states in secondary enforcement of the ban on texting, meaning the driver would not be cited for a violation unless they are charged with another violation or offense. A driver who violates the texting law can be fined $200 for first offense, $300 second offense, or $500 for subsequent offenses in addition to three points against the driver’s license. 

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