The popularity of wireless devices has had some unintended and sometimes deadly consequences. An alarming number of traffic accidents are linked to driving while distracted, including the use of cell phones while driving, resulting in injury and loss of life. The national statistics are sobering.

Nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured daily in incidents reported as distraction-related crashes in the United States, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). In 2019, more than 3,100 people were killed in accidents attributed to distracted driving, and an estimated 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018.

Handheld cell phone use tends to be highest among 16- to 24-year-old drivers, according to NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey (PDF).

What can you do?

Be clear: Make sure new drivers understand that they should not use wireless devices while driving. Before new drivers get their licenses, discuss how taking their eyes off the road – even for a few seconds – could cause someone injury or even death.

Lead by example: Set rules for new drivers, and for yourself, regarding distracted driving. Never text while driving – if you are driving and you need to text or talk on the phone, pull over to a safe place before doing so.

Be engaged: Tell family and friends, about the importance of driving without distractions. Take information to your kids’ schools and ask that it be shared with students and parents.

State laws

While there is no national ban on texting or using a wireless phone while driving, many states are taking action, according to the non-profit Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA):

  • 25 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam have banned drivers from hand-held phone use while driving. 
  • 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam have banned texting while driving for all drivers.
  • 37 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all cell phone use by novice drivers.
  • 23 states and the District of Columbia prohibit school bus drivers from cell phone use while driving.

For more information on state laws, visit the Governors Highway Safety Association.

For more information and statistics about wireless devices and driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.

Printable Version

The Dangers of Distracted Driving (pdf)

 

Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Tuesday, May 4, 2021