NJM Safety Center - Auto

Statistics and Facts About Distracted Driving

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual — taking you hands of the wheel
  • Cognitive — taking your mind off what you're doing

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. While all distractions can endanger drivers' safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.

Other distracting activities include:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or MP3 player

Research on distracted driving reveals:

  • Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Source: Carnegie Mellon)
  • In 2014, there were 3,179 people killed, and approximately 431,000 injured, in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (NHTSA)
  • The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)

Facts and Figures:

Police-reported data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) show that:

  • In 2014, there were a total of 29,989 fatal crashes in which 32,675 individuals were killed.
  • In 2014, 10% of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
  • Approximately 56 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were driving in the daytime as compared to 53 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes.
  • Motorcyclists and drivers of light trucks had the greatest percentage of total drivers reported as distracted at the time of the fatal crashes (12%).
  • An estimated 18 percent of 1,648,000 injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving.