Cell Phone & Texting Accident Statistics
Cell Phone & Texting Accident Statistics
Data regarding car accidents involving cell phone use and/or texting while driving has been limited in the past, but it’s slowly becoming available to the public.
The information on this page reflects the most current 2009 and 2008 statistics regarding cell phone usage and text messaging during car accidents.
While the popularity of mobile phones has grown enormously in the past two decades, it’s still unclear how greatly cell phone calls and texting contribute to car crashes. What is clear is that talking on the phone and texting behind the wheel both lead to distraction, and driver inattention is the leading cause of car accidents.
In 2008, at any given moment, over 800,000 people were texting, making calls, or using a hand-held cell phone while driving in the United States. With distracted driving killing nearly 6,000 Americans in the same year, it’s no mystery that cell phone use is risky for drivers. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health said that auto accident deaths involving cell phones and texting while driving rose 28% from 2005 to 2008, even though states continue to enact laws to restrict cell phone use while behind the wheel.
2011 Distracted Driving Statistics
Most adults who drive admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviors, according to a HealthDay poll from November 10-14, 2011. More than 2,800 American adults responded to the poll. Results showed the following statistics:
Approximately 86% of drivers said they ate or drank while driving at some point, and 57% said they do it “sometimes” or “often.”
Over 1/3 of drivers (37%) have sent or received text messages while driving, and 18% said they do it regularly.
Forty-one percent of adult drivers have set or changed a GPS system while driving, and 21% do it “more frequently.”
Many adult drivers (36%) have read a map while driving, and 10% do it “sometimes” or “often.”
One in five drivers have combed or styled his or her hair while driving. One in ten does it regularly.
Have you ever seen a driver putting on makeup? Approximately 14% have done it once, and 7% do it frequently.
About 13% of adult drivers have surfed the Internet while driving.
Results of the poll showed that younger drivers were more likely to engage in distracted driving. Men were more likely to drive while drowsy, drive after drinking, read a map, use a GPS system, and use the Internet.
A large percentage of the people said they know distracted driving is dangerous, but do it anyway.
Texting While Driving Statistics
About 6,000 deaths and a half a million injuries are caused by distracted drivers every year.
While teenagers are texting, they spend about 10 percent of the time outside the driving lane they’re supposed to be in.
Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver’s reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.
Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. That is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
2009 Cell Phone and Distracted Driving Statistics
Please note that 2010 and 2011 cell phone and distracted driving statistics are not yet available. Please check back frequently for updated statistics.
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in the U.S. because of accidents that involved distracted driving. Another 448,000 were injured.
Of the 5,474 killed because of distracted driving, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a factor. However, the number of fatalities caused by cell phone use could be much higher. For those who were injured, 24,000 involved reports of cell phone use as a distraction.
The under-20 age group had the highest percentage of distracted drivers; 16% of drivers under 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted while driving.
The 30- to 39-year-old age group had the highest percentage of cell phone use in fatal crashes.
More people are driving while distracted when they are involved in fatal crashes. The percentage of fatalities associated with distracted drivers increased from 10% in 2005 to 16% in 2009.
In 2009, 867 fatal crashes were reported to have involved cell phones as a means for driver distraction (18% of all fatal distracted-driving crashes).
People driving light trucks and motorcyclists had the highest percentage of total drivers reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes (12% each).
A teen driver riding with one other passenger doubles the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash. With two or more passengers, the risk increases to five times as likely.
Research reveals that 46% of drivers under 18 admit to texting while driving. Driver distraction is a factor in 25- to 50% of all car accidents, with 61% of teen drivers admitting to risky driving habits.
In 2009, the South had the highest percentage of cell phone use while driving at 6%. The Northeast came in at 4%.
Teen Driver Cell Phone and Text Messaging Statistics
Despite the risks, the majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone driving restrictions.
In 2007, driver distractions, such as using a cell phone or text messaging, contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers.
Over 60 percent of American teens admit to risky driving, and nearly half of those that admit to risky driving also admit to text messaging behind the wheel.
Each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year.
Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting while driving.
Over one-third of all young drivers, ages 24 and under, are texting on the road.
Teens say that texting is their number one driver distraction.
Adult Driver Cell Phone, Texting, and Car Accident Information
Talking on a cell phone causes nearly 25% of car accidents.
One-fifth of experienced adult drivers in the United States send text messages while driving.
A study of dangerous driver behavior released in January 2007 by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. found that of 1,200 surveyed drivers, 73 percent talk on cell phones while driving.
The same 2007 survey found that 19 percent of motorists say they text message while driving.
In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that ten percent of drivers are on hand-held or hands free cell phones at any given hour of the day.
A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Motorists found that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
In 2002, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis calculated that 2,600 people die each year as a result of using cellphones while driving. They estimated that another 330,000 are injured.
According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, drivers talking on cell phones are 18 percent slower to react to brake lights. They also take 17 percent longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked.
An estimated 44 percent of American drivers now have cell phones in their automobiles.
Of cell phone users that were surveyed, 85 percent said they use their phones occasionally when driving, 30 percent use their phones while driving on the highway, and 27 percent use them during half or more of the trips they take.
84 percent of cell phone users stated that they believe using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of being in an accident.
The majority of Americans believe that talking on the phone and texting are two of the most dangerous behaviors that occur behind the wheel. Still, as many as 81% of drivers admit to making phone calls while driving.
The number of crashes and near-crashes linked to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Dialing is more dangerous but occurs less often than talking or listening.
Studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
Study Reveals the Dangers of Texting While Driving
The following statistics come from a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI):
Of all cell phone related tasks – including talking, dialing, or reaching for the phone – texting while driving is the most dangerous.
Teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near crash events directly related to talking on a cell phone or texting.
A car driver dialing a cell phone is 2.8 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-distracted driver.
A driver reaching for a cell phone or any other electronic device is 1.4 times more likely to experience a car crash.
A car driver talking on their phone is 1.3 times more likely to get into an accident.
A truck driver texting while driving is 23.2 times more likely to get into an accident than a trucker paying full attention to the road.
A truck driver dialing a cell is 5.9 times more likely to crash.
A trucker reaching for a phone or other device is 6.7 times more likely to experience a truck accident.
For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road. This makes texting the most distracting of all cell phone related tasks.
Pennsylvania Cell Phone Car Crash Stats
In Pennsylvania, although there are no laws regarding talking on the cell or sending text messages while driving, there are emerging statistics that show the connection between cell phone use and car wrecks.
There were 23,059 crashes involving 16- to 19-year-olds in 2008, resulting in 194 deaths. Driver distraction contributed to about 10% of them, but the number could be much higher.
In Pennsylvania, there were 1,298 cell phone related accidents in 2008. Of those accidents, 9 resulted in death.
From 2003 to 2006, car accidents from cell phone use lead to 50 deaths across the state of Pennsylvania.
Cell phone-related car accidents shot up 43 percent in western Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2006.
A normal, undistracted driver fails to notice an important road event (like another driver mistake) 3% of the time. An adult dialing a cell phone misses that event 13% of the time, and a teenager dialing a cell phone misses it 53% of the time.
According to PennDOT, from 2002 to 2006 there were 5,715 car accidents linked to the use of hand-held cell phones in PA.
PennDOT also reports 367 accidents in the same time period involving hands free cell phones or Bluetooth communication devices.
In 2004 alone, hand-held cell phone use contributed to over 1,170 Pennsylvania car crashes.
Accidents involving talking or texting on a cell phone rose from 168 in 2003 to 228 in 2005 in the Western Pennsylvania region. That’s a 36 percent increase in over two years.
More Accident Statistics
Bicycle Accident Stats
Bus Accident Statistics
Car Accident Statistics
Drunk Driving Statistics
Motorcycle Accident Stats
Pedestrian Accident Stats
Rollover SUV Crash Stats
Seat Belt Statistics
Single Vehicle Crash Stats
Teen Driver Statistics
Truck Accident Statistics
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Some statistics taken from
"State lawmakers try to curb driver distractions." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. October 2007.
"Teen texting is OTT, even at wheel." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 2007.
"Driving, Texting Just Don't Mix Well." The Pittsburgh Channel. May 2007.
"Bill would require motorists to unhand their phones." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 2006.
"PennDOT Teen Driver Safety Week News Release." Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. October 22, 2008.
"Cellphones and Driving." Insurance Information Institute. October 2008.
"AMA acts against trans fats, texting while driving." Washington Post. November 10, 2008.
"Teen Texting is OTT, Even at Wheel." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 17, 2007.
"Distractions Challenge Teen Drivers." USA Today. January 26, 2007.
"Distracted Driving 2009." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. September 2010.
"Driver Electronic Use in 2009." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. September 2010.
"Distracted Driving and Driver, Roadway, and Environmental Factors." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. September 2010.
"Most U.S. Drivers Engage in 'Distracted' Driving Behaviors." USAToday.com. December 1, 2011.
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