Distracted Driving 2018: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts & Data

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) works to reduce the occurrence of distracted driving and raise awareness of its dangers.

This risky behavior poses a danger to vehicle occupants as well as pedestrians and pedalcyclists.

Driver distraction is a specific type of driver inattention. Distraction occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity.

Often discussions regarding distracted driving center around cell phone use and texting, but distracted driving also includes other activities such as eating, talking to other passengers, or adjusting the radio or climate controls. A distraction-affected crash is any crash in which a driver was identified as distracted at the time of the crash.

Distracted Driving 2018 Facts

  • Eight percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
  • In 2018 there were 2,841 people killed and an estimated additional 400,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
  • Five percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. Eight percent of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.
  • In 2018 there were 506 nonoccupants (pedestrians, pedalcyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes.
  • There were 2,628 fatal crashes that occurred on U.S. roadways in 2018 that involved distraction (8% of all fatal crashes). These crashes involved 2,688 distracted drivers, since some crashes involved more than one distracted driver.
  • A total of 385 people died in fatal crashes that involved cell-phone-related activities as distractions.

Fatal Crashes, Drivers in Fatal Crashes, and Fatalities in Distraction-Affected Crashes Statistics

TotalDistraction-AffectedPercentage of Total
Source: FARS 2018 Annual Report File (ARF)

Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes, by Age Group, Distraction, and Cell Phone Use, 2018 Statistics

Age GroupTotal Drivers% of Total DriversDistracted DriversDrivers Using Cell Phones
15 – 193,0706%23740
20 – 2911,62923%680120
30 -399,26418%50686
40 – 497,80915%38944
50 – 597,88315%34236
60 – 695,63511%25121
Source: FARS 2018 ARF

People Injured in All Crashes and Distraction-Affected Crashes, 2014–2018 Statistics

YearTotal CrashesDistracted-Affected CrashesCell Phone Use
Sources: FARS 2014–2017 Final File, 2018 ARF; NASS GES 2014–2015; CRSS 2016–2018

Source: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812926 [Download as PDF]

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