Distracted driving is something that most of us hear about, but few take the time to understand. Distractions while driving encompass far more than just texting while driving, though that is a leading cause of accidents. In reality, distracted driving is anything that takes your attention off the road.
Each day, around eight people are killed in auto accidents caused by distracted driving. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2018 (their most recent data year) suggests that distracted driving has devastating costs. In 2018, distracted driving:
- Killed more than 2,800 people
- Injured more than 400,000 people
- Was most common among drivers 15-19 years old
- Was responsible for 9% of all teenager deaths in auto accidents
These numbers are more than alarming. They represent millions of lives affected by unnecessary behaviors. In short, most – if not all – of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented.
Who is Most at Risk for Distracted Driving Injuries or Death?
According to the CDC, the most at-risk population for distracted driving accidents are teenagers and young adults. Primarily drivers ages 15-29. Among fatal distracted driving accidents in 2018, 8% of drivers ages 15-19 were distracted when the accident happened. The most common distraction is, unsurprisingly, cell phone use.
A startling 39% of high school-age drivers report texting while driving in the past 30 days. Distracted driving is common among A-B students as it is among students with Cs, Ds, or Fs. Texting or emailing is more common among white students (44%) than Hispanic (33%) or Black (30%) students.
Teenage drivers who drive while distracted are also more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors like:
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Driving after consuming alcohol
- Riding with a driver who has consumed alcohol
If these statistics are not enough reason to teach young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, there may be little hope for future generations. Parents, teachers, and guardians should work with young drivers to help them understand the risks and prevent injuries and deaths.