Distracted Driving | Transportation Safety | Injury Center (2023)

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Nine people in the United States are killed every day in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.1

Distracted driving is doing another activity that takes the driver’s attention away from driving. Distracted driving can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

(Video) Distracted driving kills, Don't use your phone | 2017 Global Road Safety Film Festival 3nd prize

There are three types of driving distractions

Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger you, your passengers, and others on the road.

There are three main types of distraction:2

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off driving

Distracted Driving | Transportation Safety | Injury Center (1)

Distracted driving impacts thousands of Americans each year

  • In the United States, over 3,100 people were killed and about 424,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2019.1
  • About 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2019 were not in vehicles―they were walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside a vehicle.1

Distracted Driving | Transportation Safety | Injury Center (2)

(Video) Distracted Driving Takes Center Stage

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010-2013external icon, 2014–2018external iconand 2019external icon

You can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationexternal icon(NHTSA) website for more information on how data on motor vehicle crash deaths are collected and the limitations of distracted driving data.

Some groups are more at risk for distracted driving

Young adult and teen drivers

  • Among fatal crashes involving distracted drivers in the U.S. in 2019:
    • A higher percentage of drivers ages 15–20 were distracted than drivers age 21 and older.
    • Among these younger drivers, 9% of them were distracted at the time of the crash.1
  • A 2019 survey3 of U.S. high school students found:
    • 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days texted or emailed while driving on at least one of those days.4
    • Texting or emailing while driving was more common among older students than younger students (see figure below) and more common among White students (44%) than Black (30%) or Hispanic students (35%).4
    • Texting or emailing while driving was as common among students whose grades were mostly As or Bs as among students with mostly Cs, Ds, or Fs. 4
    • Students who texted or emailed while driving were also more likely to report other transportation risk behaviors.They were:
      • more likely to not always wear a seat belt;
      • more likely to ride with a driver who had been drinking alcohol; and
      • more likely to drive after drinking alcohol. 4

Distracted Driving | Transportation Safety | Injury Center (3)

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationexternal icon, 2019

Distracted Driving | Transportation Safety | Injury Center (4)

Sourceexternal icon: Transportation Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019

Distracted driving is preventable

What drivers can do

  • Do not multitask while driving. Whether it’s adjusting your mirrors, selecting music, eating, making a phone call, or reading a text or email―do it before or after your trip, not during.
  • You can use appsexternal icon to help you avoid cell phone use while driving. Consider trying an app to reduce distractions while driving.

What passengers can do

  • Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver. Ask the driver to focus on driving.
  • Reduce distractions for the driver by assisting with navigation or other tasks.

What parents can do5

  • Talk to your teen or young adult about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share stories and statistics related to teen/young adult drivers and distracted driving.
    • Remind them driving is a skill that requires the driver’s full attention.
    • Emphasize that texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at a destination.
  • Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driver licensing systemexternal icon and enforce its guidelines for your teen.
  • Know your state’s laws on distracted drivingexternal icon. Many states have novice driver provisions in their distracted driving laws. Talk with your teen about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your state’s penalties for talking or texting while driving.
  • Set consequences for distracted driving. Fill out CDC’s Parent-Teen Driving Agreementpdf icontogether to begin a safe driving discussion and set your family’s rules of the road. Your family’s rules of the road can be stricter than your state’s law. You can also use these simple and effective ways to get involved with your teen’s driving: Parents Are the Key.
  • Set anexample by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving.
  • Learn more: visit NHTSA’s website on safe teen drivingexternal icon.
(Video) The Hazards of Distracted Driving

States are working to prevent distracted driving

  • Many states have enacted laws to help prevent distracted driving. These include banning texting while driving, implementing hands-free laws, and limiting the number of young passengers who can ride with teen drivers.
  • While the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws requires further study, high-visibility enforcement (HVE) efforts for distracted driving laws can be effective in reducing cell phone use while driving. From 2010 to 2013, NHTSA evaluated distracted driving HVE demonstration projects in four communities. These projects increased police enforcement of distracted driving laws and increased awareness of distracted driving using radio advertisements, news stories, and similar media. After the projects were complete, observed driver cell phone use fell from:
    • 4.1% to 2.7% in the Sacramento Valley Region in California,6
    • 6.8% to 2.9% in Hartford, Connecticut,7
    • 4.5% to 3.0% in the state of Delaware,6 and
    • 3.7% to 2.5% in Syracuse, New York.7
  • Graduated driver licensing (GDL) is a system which helps new drivers gain experience under low-risk conditions by granting driving privileges in stages. Comprehensive GDL systems include five components8-9, one of which addresses distracted driving: the young passenger restriction.10 CDC’s GDL Planning Guidepdf iconcan assist states in assessing, developing, and implementing actionable plans to strengthen their GDL systems.
  • Some states have installed rumble strips on highways to alert drowsy, distracted, or otherwise inattentive drivers that they are about to go off the road. These rumble strips are effective at reducing certain types of crashes.10

The Federal Government is working to prevent distracted driving

Distracted Driving Fact Sheet

(Video) Distracted Driving - Makeup

This fact sheet provides an overview of distracted driving and promising strategies that are being used to address distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Summary Fact Sheet pdf icon[PDF – 660 KB]

Additional Resources

References

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2021).Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: Distracted Driving 2019 (DOT HS 813 111)external icon. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC: NHTSA. Accessed 8 February 2022.
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2010). Overview of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Driver Distraction Program (DOT HS 811 299)pdf iconexternal icon. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC. Accessed 8 February 2022.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Accessed 8 February 2022.
  4. Yellman, M.A., Bryan, L., Sauber-Schatz, E.K., Brener, N. (2020). Transportation Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019external icon.MMWR Suppl,69(Suppl-1),77–83.
  5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Teen Drivingexternal icon. Accessed 8 February 2022.
  6. Chaudhary, N.K., Connolly, J., Tison, J., Solomon, M., & Elliott, K. (2015). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Evaluation of the NHTSA Distracted Driving High-Visibility Enforcement Demonstration Projects in California and Delaware pdf iconexternal icon(DOT HS 812 108). U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.
  7. Chaudhary, N.K., Casanova-Powell, T.D., Cosgrove, L., Reagan, I., & Williams, A. (2012). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Evaluation of NHTSA Distracted Driving Demonstration Projects in Connecticut and New York pdf iconexternal icon(DOT HS 811 635). U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Motor Vehicle Injuries. Accessed 8 February 2022.
  9. Venkatraman, V., Richard, C. M., Magee, K., & Johnson, K. (2021). Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasures guide for State Highway Safety Offices, 10th edition, 2020 (Report No. DOT HS 813 097)pdf iconexternal icon. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC.
  10. Federal Highway Administration. (2011). Technical Advisory: Shoulder and Edge Line Rumble Strips (T 5040.39, Revision 1)pdf iconexternal icon. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC: FHWA. Accessed 24 August 2020.

Page last reviewed: April 26, 2022

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

(Video) The Risks of Distracted Driving | Brad Gorski | TEDxStanleyPark

FAQs

How long does a text take your eyes off the road? ›

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.

What is the penalty for texting and driving in Utah? ›

According to Utah's laws, anyone who is caught texting while driving could possibly face up to three months in jail, as well as a fine of as much as $750 fine, as well as a misdemeanor on their record.

What are the top 5 distractions while driving? ›

Five Most Common Distractions While Driving
  • Cognitive distraction. ...
  • Cell phone use. ...
  • Events outside the vehicle. ...
  • Drivers may carry on conversations or even have arguments with their passengers while driving. ...
  • Reaching for devices inside the vehicle.
8 Mar 2019

What is the number one unsafe driving behavior? ›

Unsurprisingly, speeding is the biggest unsafe driving behavior in the US, as it is in many countries around the globe. Although going a few mph over the speed limit isn't that uncommon, it could be the difference between life and death if you're not careful.

What does a large diamond painted in a lane mean? ›

A large diamond painted in a lane means. This lane is reserved for special traffic.

How much is a cell phone ticket in Utah? ›

Utah Code § 41-6a-1716(4) makes it a Class C misdemeanor to text while driving in Utah, punishable by a fine of up to $100.

Can you get pulled over for being on your phone in Utah? ›

It is now illegal for motorists to hold a phone to your ear on a phone call while driving a vehicle in Utah. But as stated above it is classified as a secondary offense. Meaning: The police can't pull you over unless you cause a car accident or driving erratically, such as weaving between lanes.

Is a text message legally binding in Utah? ›

The Utah Supreme Court has stated that all writings must include all the essential terms and provisions of a contract. This means that even if in electronic format, an email or text message could be considered a writing to satisfy the statute of frauds.

What is the number 1 cause of distracted driving? ›

People who use their cell phones to talk or text while driving are by far the most common reason for distracted driving accidents. In fact, the National Safety Council estimates that 26% of all car crashes involve cell phones.

What are 4 types distracted drivers? ›

FOUR TYPES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
  • Eating in the car. Drivers who eat behind the wheel are seriously limiting their ability to respond to an accident. ...
  • Talking to Passengers. The most distracting passengers are often children and pets. ...
  • Electronic Device Use. ...
  • Grooming.

What are at least 3 dangers of distracted driving? ›

Why is Distracted Driving a Problem? Distractions take a motorist's attention off driving, which can make a driver miss critical events, objects, and cues or abandon control of a vehicle, all potentially leading to a crash. Distracted drivers put not only themselves at risk, but everyone else using the road.

What are 5 precautions you can do to avoid distracted driving? ›

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
  1. Use your cell phone for emergency situations only. ...
  2. If you are drowsy, pull off the road. ...
  3. You should limit the number of passengers, as well as the level of activity inside the car. ...
  4. Avoid eating while driving. ...
  5. Do your multi-tasking outside the car.

What are the 3 riskiest driving behaviors? ›

Speeding and Erratic Driving

In addition, the study also noted that other related risky behaviors include sudden acceleration, hard braking, and lane drifting - each elevating the likelihood that an accident may occur.

What is the most annoying driving habit? ›

Survey respondents said that texting while driving is considered the most egregious sin of all, with 93.7% in agreement. Rounding out the top 5 most annoying driving habits: tailgating (92.5%), not checking blind spots (91.5%), road rage (91.3%), and not using turn signals when changing lanes (90.2%).

What does a white triangle painted on the road mean? ›

Give way road markings

The triangle road marking is used to provide an extra visual aid warning drivers of a junction just ahead. this road marking may not be used on roads where there is relatively little traffic. Give way road markings are also represented by one or two broken white lines across the carriageway.

What does a black and white diamond on the road mean? ›

A single white line indicates that lane changes are discouraged. A dashed white line indicates that lane changes are allowed. Symbols are used to indicate permitted lane usages. A diamond indicates a lane reserved for use by high-occupancy vehicles.

Should I listen to my car radio or other devices? ›

When listening to your car radio or other audio device: You should keep the volume low enough to hear outside noises, It is illegal to wear stereo (over each ear) headphones, You should keep at least one window partially open, to hear outside sounds, like emergency vehicles.

What happens if you get caught driving with your phone? ›

You can get six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone when driving. If you get six points within two years of passing your test you will lose your licence.

Is it illegal to drive with Airpods in Utah? ›

It's legal! Headphones or earbuds covering both ears are not permitted. The exceptions are motorcycle helmet audio systems, and one-ear headsets and earpieces.

Are headphones illegal while driving Utah? ›

There is no prohibition on headsets in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Deleware, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, ...

Can you refuse to show ID in Utah? ›

Failure to disclose identity. the person fails to disclose the person's name or date of birth. Failure to disclose identity is a class B misdemeanor.

Can police search your text messages? ›

No, police background checks do not look at your text messages, unless certain text messages were evidence in a prior investigation and still remain on police computers. In that case, those text messages could be used as part of the background check, but your current ones will not.

Can you record police in Utah? ›

Broadly speaking, it is illegal to record law enforcement when doing so impedes an arrest or other police operations. Interfering with police in Utah can result in criminal charges.

Can screenshots of text messages be used in court? ›

You can authenticate text messages by presenting: a “copy,” a screenshot, photo, or print-out of the message that includes identifying information that links the message to the texter, and. testimony or affidavit that the copy is a true and accurate representation of the text messages.

Will a judge look at text messages? ›

When can text messages be used in court? Before text messages can be introduced into a case, they have to be legally obtained as evidence. Buckfire says that if a person doesn't voluntarily provide their cell phone, an attorney can obtain a court order or subpoena to gain access to relevant messages.

Do agreements over text hold up in court? ›

Generally, contracts that include an offer, consideration, capacity to contract, and acceptance, are deemed valid by the courts. This is the case for written contracts, digital legal documents, or agreements over text, email, or other forms of communication.

What are two major issues that can cause distracted driving? ›

Texting and reading messages, talking on a cell phone, fidgeting with a navigation system, parenting or eating are common causes of distracted driving accidents. Driving distracted endangers you, your passengers, others on the road, and people walking across it.

What are the 4 S's of driving? ›

Parents and children should recognize the importance of the 4 S's: Statistics, Speed, Sound, and Size.

What are the 3 basic driver actions? ›

The basic maneuvers everyone must do are entering and leaving traffic, right and left turns, lane changes and turning the car around.

What are the two types of distracted drivers? ›

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are three primary types of driving distractions: visual, manual and cognitive.
  • Visual Distractions. Visual driving distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road. ...
  • Manual Distractions. ...
  • Cognitive Distractions.
20 Apr 2021

Which type of distraction cause the most fatal accidents? ›

Distracted driving — including texting while driving — is the cause of more than 58% of crashes involving teen drivers.

What are 5 defensive driving strategies? ›

Following these defensive driving tips can help reduce your risk behind the wheel:
  • Think safety first. ...
  • Be aware of your surroundings — pay attention. ...
  • Do not depend on other drivers. ...
  • Follow the 3- to 4-second rule. ...
  • Keep your speed down. ...
  • Have an escape route. ...
  • Separate risks. ...
  • Cut out distractions.

What are 3 ways to minimize distractions? ›

7 Ways to Avoid Distractions and Stay Focused on Studying
  1. Get organized with a to-do list.
  2. Silence alerts and keep open Internet tabs to a minimum.
  3. Break big projects into small pieces.
  4. Use music and headphones to cut down noise.
  5. Find the best environment for efficient studying.
  6. Clean up and organize your work space.
6 Aug 2021

What are the top 5 distractions for drivers? ›

Five Most Common Distractions While Driving
  • Cognitive distraction. ...
  • Cell phone use. ...
  • Events outside the vehicle. ...
  • Drivers may carry on conversations or even have arguments with their passengers while driving. ...
  • Reaching for devices inside the vehicle.
8 Mar 2019

What are the three main causes of distracted driving? ›

Causes of distracted driving
  • Talking on the phone. ...
  • Texting and other phone manipulation. ...
  • Talking with another passenger. ...
  • Moving objects/animals in the vehicle. ...
  • Adjusting audio and/or climate controls. ...
  • Manipulating car components and controls. ...
  • Reaching for an object or device. ...
  • “Rubbernecking” and other outside distractions.
6 Jun 2017

What is driver distraction prevention? ›

Anything that occupies your mind or vision can be a distraction behind the wheel. Make time at home to eat meals or put on makeup, so you can focus on the road. Don't be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting family members and friends when you know they are driving to avoid distracting them. Talk to your employer.

What are 5 different distracted driving behaviors? ›

Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger you, your passengers, and others on the road.

How long does it typically take attention off the road? ›

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. “Just a glance” still means a significant distance is traveled, even at lower speeds. With so many drivers on the road haphazardly using mobile devices while driving, the odds of something terrible happening is significant.

How long can you glance away from the road? ›

According to the Liberty Mutual, NHTSA recommends that drivers look away from the road for no more than two seconds at 70 mph.

How much time do drivers who text spend outside their lane? ›

When a driver texts while driving, then the driver does't pay enough attention to the road and the driver will tend to drive outside their own driving lane about 10% of the time.

When text messaging behind the wheel the time a driver's eyes are off the road can increase up to what percentage? ›

The truth of the matter is that texting while driving results in 400% more time with a driver's eyes off the road, seriously increasing the chances of a crash.

What are the 4 types of distracted driving? ›

FOUR TYPES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
  • Eating in the car. Drivers who eat behind the wheel are seriously limiting their ability to respond to an accident. ...
  • Talking to Passengers. The most distracting passengers are often children and pets. ...
  • Electronic Device Use. ...
  • Grooming.

What is it called when you stare at the road for too long? ›

Highway hypnosis is a manifestation of the common process of automaticity. The concept was first described in a 1921 article that mentioned the phenomenon of "road hypnotism": driving in a trance-like state while gazing at a fixed point.

Can you drive as slow as you want? ›

Most state laws do not specify how far below the speed limit is legal. They leave that decision to the highway patrol officer, but a good rule of thumb is that it is illegal to drive at a speed so slow that you hold up the normal traffic flow. Going slow on a higher-speed freeway can increase the risk of a collision.

What is the 3 second rule in driving? ›

Every driver must cultivate healthy driving habits to limit their risk of causing accidents. A general rule that helps many drivers maintain safe following distances is the “three-second rule.” It requires leaving three seconds of space between your vehicle and the vehicle driving in front of you.

What is 4 seconds rule in driving? ›

Count slowly and steadily. If you did NOT reach 4 before the point passed your front bumper, then you are too close to the car ahead. At 55 mph, you should be almost 323 feet behind the car ahead.

What is the 2 second rule in driving? ›

To use the rule, drivers should allow the vehicle in front to pass a fixed object such as a lamp post or road sign then count to two seconds. If they reach two seconds before reaching the reference marker they need to drop back. The picture below shows how intimidating it can be when someone is driving too close.

What age group has the most distracted drivers? ›

„∎ The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group – 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.

What age group is most affected by texting and driving? ›

A.

The AAA Foundation poll opines that adult drivers in the 25 - 39 age group are more likely to text while driving than most drivers of a younger age. The data gathered from the survey showed that 52% of young adults text while driving as opposed to 38% of teenagers and high school students.

What was the cause of baby David's death? ›

Nothing touched his head. At the point of impact, Sean's head continued to move and as his head went from side to side, his brain rubbed up against the inside of his skull and caused his injury which is called Severe Diffuse Axonal.

How do cops know if you're texting and driving? ›

Text Analyzer – Think of it like police radar, except instead of measuring speed it analyzes frequencies from a driver's cell phone to see if it is being used for texting.

What are three types of distractions behind the wheel? ›

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are three primary types of driving distractions: visual, manual and cognitive.
  • Visual Distractions. Visual driving distractions cause you to take your eyes off the road. ...
  • Manual Distractions. ...
  • Cognitive Distractions.
20 Apr 2021

Are you supposed to look back when driving? ›

It is very important to check behind you before you: Change lanes. Look over your shoulder to make sure you are not getting in the way of vehicles in the lane you want to enter. Reduce your speed.

Videos

1. Distracted Driving - Beverage
(Naval Safety Center Archives)
2. Cognitive Distraction - Full Video
(AAA)
3. DISTRACTED DRIVING: Surviving the New "Drunk Driver" video
(DriveSafeRideSafe - Smarter Drivers, Safer Roads. That's our goal.)
4. Distracted driving
(Robert W. Kapfhammer)
5. Texting and Driving - "From One Second to the Next"
(WITN Channel 22)
6. Engaging Ways to Address Distracted Driving at Work
(NatlSafetyCouncil)
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