The U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issued the latest statistics on distracted driving in the United States. For 2013, according to the NHTSA, 3,154 people lost their lives and another estimated 424,000 were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. Another 480 non-occupants were killed in these accidents.
Distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use and texting. Other dangerous behavior includes eating, talking to other occupants in the vehicle, and adjusting devices such as the radio or climate control.
Cell phone use was involved in 411 fatal accidents in the country in 2013 which constituted 14 percent of all fatal accidents involving distracted driving. These car crashes killed 445 people.
Distracted driving was involved in with 10 percent of all fatal car accidents, 18 percent of auto accidents involving injuries and 16 percent of all accidents reported by the police for that year in this country. Drivers, aged 15 to 19 years-old, had the largest proportion of distracted drivers. Ten percent of all drivers in that age group involved in a fatal crash were distracted.
Eleven percent of all the distracted drivers using cell phones were 15 to 19 years-old. Drivers in their 20s were 38 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes that were using cell phones.
As disturbing as these figures are, the NHTSA reports that these statistics may not accurately reflect this problem for several reasons. Police reports vary among jurisdictions. Some states under-report these accidents while other reports may over-report.
Self-reporting is also lower than the actual occurrence of distracted driving. Law enforcement may not have accurate information and witness accounts may be unreliable. Figures currently do not differentiate between distractions such as cell phone use and adjusting controls and external factors related to driving such as looking at a street sign or another auto accident.
Victims of an accidents caused by a driver engaged in this reckless activity may be entitled to compensation for serious injuries or other losses. Prompt legal assistance should be sought to help locate evidence concerning the cause of the car accident and to represent victims’ rights in settlement negotiations and legal proceedings.
Source: NHTSA, “Distracted driving 2013,” Accessed on April 3, 2015