How Many Deaths Are Caused By Distracted Driving?

In the United States, the prevalence of smartphones has transformed distracted driving into a significant concern for traffic safety. Below outlines the NSC analysis of NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data.

Quick Facts

  • Distracting tasks can affect drivers in different ways and can be categorized as visual, manual, and cognitive distraction.
  • The National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data finds that 3,142 people died in distraction-affected crashes in 2020.
  • Over the last 10 years, the prevalence of drivers using hand-held cell phones at any given daylight moment has decreased from 5.2% of drivers in 2012 to 2.5% in 2021.
  • The percent of drivers manipulating hand-held electronic devices has increased 127%, from 1.5% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2021. Among other activities, this observation includes text messaging.

Fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes and distraction-affected crashes by year, 2011-2021

Fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes and distraction-affected crashes by year, 2011-2021
YearDistraction-affected fatal crashes involving cell phone useOther distraction-affected fatal crashes

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