Most definitions describe texting and driving as the practice of using a mobile device to compose, read, and send texts, chat messages, or emails while being behind the wheel. Many analysts believe that it is extremely dangerous to talk on the phone while operating a motor vehicle — hence why it represents one of the most irresponsible activities that a driver could do (while driving).
In this article, we will go through some of the most relevant texting and driving statistics, in order to shed some new light on why so many jurisdictions have outlawed the practice. Likewise, we will be covering texting and driving-related deaths, demographics, rates of smartphone usage behind the wheel, overall dangers, as well as its impact on insurance premiums. Hopefully, this article will also serve as educational material for all guilty parties and deter them from such practices.
Continue reading if you want to find out more about this topic.
Most Intriguing Distracted Driving Stats and Facts — (Editor’s Choice)
- 4,637 deaths were caused by distracted driving in the US in 2018.
- A texting and driving violation can lead to a $290 annual increase in insurance premiums.
- Over 9% of fatal crashes to occur in the US were caused by distracted driving in 2016.
- Texting and driving are reportedly 6 times more likely to lead to a car accident as opposed to driving under the influence.
- Right now, there are roughly 660,000 drivers using their smartphones whilst driving in the US.
Texting and Driving Death Statistics
- The largest death toll per 10 billion miles driven belongs to the state of Tennessee, as can be seen from the (top ten) table down below:
|Distracted Driving Death Statistics by State|
|State||No. of deaths for every 10 billion miles driven|
Source: Value Penguin
- The number of texting and driving crashes in the US has increased over the years, as can be seen from the yearly death toll table below:
|Year||No. of deaths caused by distracted driving|
There are numerous arguments that try to explain why the number of said accidents is on the rise. Some of these include the rising popularity of smartphones, the fact that we are more connected than ever before, lack of overall traffic safety educational efforts, as well as the lack of penalties and adequate fines for smartphone usage while driving in several US states.
Source: Edgar Snyder
Demographics — Adults Texting and Driving Statistics
- In 2016, 159 adults in the 20–29 age group were involved in fatal car crashes due to cell phone usage
What’s more, this age demographic represents the most likely candidates of fatal crashes involving cell phones. Similarly, it is also the most likely demographic to be involved in car crash fatalities due to distracted driving, judging how 898 adults belonging to this age group die every year as a result of distracted driving in the US, as indicated by distracted driving stats.
- Another 96 adults in the 30–39 age group were also involved in fatal car crashes due to cell phone usage in 2016
This is the second most likely demographic to be involved in fatal car accidents caused by cell phone use or distracted driving. It is estimated that 586 people perish due to distracted driving every year, as per texting and driving statistics.
- As for adults in the 40–49 age group, 69 were involved in fatal car crashes due to cell phone usage in 2016
Hence, we can deduce that the rates of car crash fatalities caused by cell phone usage drop with an increase in driver age. It is estimated that 400 people in this age group perish due to distracted driving every year. In fact, adult texting and driving statistics indicate that the phenomenon is not limited to teens or young adults only, as it has often been portrayed in the media; all age groups are at risk.
- 48 adults in the 50–59 age bracket and 21 adults in the 60–69 age group were also involved in fatal car crashes due to mobile phone usage in 2016
Overall, 415 people in the first age group perished as a result of distracted driving, as well as 288 individuals belonging to the second group, as shown in our texting and driving statistics by age stats.
- Last but not least, 5 adults over 70 years of age were involved in fatal car crashes due to cell phone usage in 2016
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this is the age group that is least likely to be involved in fatal car crashes associated with cell phone usage or distracted driving. It is estimated that 282 people in this group perished due to distracted driving in 2016.
Demographics — Teens Texting and Driving Statistics
- 58 drivers in the 15–19 age group have perished due to smartphone usage while behind the wheel in 2016
Likewise, 3,323 drivers in this age group have died as a result of a car crash in 2016, which accounts for 6% of all US-based drivers involved in fatal crashes (the lowest number in the NHTSA research for 2016). Teenage texting and driving statistics do show that distracted driving has caused 303 deaths.
Cell Phone Use While Driving Statistics
- In 2016, reports indicate that 9% of fatal crashes to occur in the US, were caused by a distraction
This statistic includes texting while driving, alongside smartphone browsing, and other similar behavior. It does indicate that 3,450 deaths could have been prevented in the US with better public awareness of the dangers of texting and driving statistics.
- 40% of surveyed teens reported that they were passengers in a car being driven by a person who was texting and driving
Chances are that the actual rates are much higher since not everyone likes to admit dangerous behavior. Despite this, awareness efforts are being taken by authorities throughout the US and the rest of the world, as shown by teens texting and driving statistics.
- Fun fact: sending a text message generally takes 5–7 seconds while behind the wheel, which is more than enough time to travel across a football field
It usually takes around 3 seconds for an accident to occur once a driver has become distracted. During this timeframe, the car travels a few hundred meters; this distance is more than enough to cause cell phone-related deaths.
- An AT&T study has concluded that 77% of surveyed US-based teenagers were warned by their parents against texting and driving despite the fact that their parents were observed to have similar behaviors
Hence, it is essential for adults to practice what they preach when giving safe driving suggestions, especially since bad habits are easily formed at a younger age, and are difficult to overcome later on, according to texting and driving facts.
- According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 391,000 individuals were injured following a vehicle crash involving a distracted driver
These numbers are specifically for the US. It is difficult to determine a worldwide total since not every country out there keeps track of accident causes or is willing to share their empirical data. The CDC has reported a total of 416,000 injuries in 2020; 387,000 in 2011; 421,000 in 2012; 424,000 in 2013; and 431,000 in 2014. From a long-term perspective, distracted driving was less of an issue before the prevalence of smartphones, as pointed out by texting and driving graphs.
- A CDC study shows that young adults (students specifically) who text and drive are more likely to not wear a seatbelt, drink and drive, or share a ride with a driver who is under the influence
From a psychological standpoint, these are high-risk and self-destructive behaviors with (potentially) significant consequences. Authorities have to invest more effort in reducing roadside accidents caused by factors other than driver error or technical difficulties, namely for car accidents caused by texting.
- In March 2019, only 16 US states had enacted bans against the usage of mobile devices while driving
Interestingly, texting and driving is prohibited in 47 states, including the District of Columbia. Therefore, playing a mobile game while driving, for instance, remains theoretically legal in more than a dozen states. Nevertheless, upon witnessing such behaviors, traffic police are very likely to sanction drivers for reckless driving, endangerment, and other such offenses according to statistics on texting and driving.
- Most federal employees are forbidden from texting and driving, according to several mandates from the early 2010s
In 2009, President Obama banned texting and driving for all federal employees using government equipment and going about on official business. The Federal Railroad Administration, alongside the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and other public agencies, followed suit in an effort to reduce texting and driving death statistics.
- Reports indicate that drivers are not the only ones in danger while texting — namely, texting pedestrians are reportedly 4 times less likely to obey traffic signals or to check whether it is safe to cross the street
This recklessness leads to more pedestrian injuries and fatalities, especially when dealing with circumstances where both drivers and pedestrians are distracted.
Source: Edgar Snyder
- A recent report indicates that (right now) there are roughly 660,000 drivers using their smartphones whilst driving in the US
Meaning, US roads have over half a million distracted drivers at any point during the day, drastically increasing the chances of road accidents and death by cell phones.
Source: Edgar Snyder
Statistics on Drunk Drivers
- Texting and driving is reportedly 6 times more likely to lead to a car accident as opposed to driving under the influence
This statistic does depend on how much the driver has been drinking; yet drunk drivers generally try to pay attention to the road unless they are physically unable to do so. On the other hand, texting drivers willingly take their eyes off the road for prolonged periods of time, thus endangering themselves and other traffic participants, as reported by stats on texting and driving.
Source: The Zebra
- A research effort has concluded that men are 4 times more likely to drive under the influence, whereas women are more avid texting drivers
Of course, there are also numerous cases where women carry out DUIs, and where men decide to text and drive.
Source: The Zebra
- Texting and driving shares similar reaction times to being over the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration limit — hence why so many texting while driving deaths occur over the years
The difference in reaction times between DUI and distracted drivers is negligible, further highlighting the dangers of both practices.
Source: The Zebra
Dangers of Texting While Driving
- Texting and driving is a worldwide phenomenon — in South Africa, the practice leads to roughly 25% of road accidents
This is so despite the fact that the practice is lawfully designated as illegal. In fact, approximately 50% of surveyed South Africans have admitted to using their cell phones behind the wheel, according to recent stats on texting and driving.
Source: Business Tech
- One of the most common reasons as to why drivers text and drive is due to checking work-related messages (9% of the time).
Additionally, drivers use their smartphones to check personal or social messages (8%), to report a roadside accident or emergency (6%), to handle a quick call (4%), etc.
Source: The Simple Dollar
- On the other hand, drivers are far less likely to use their mobile phones while driving if there is bad weather (around 39% of the time).
Other deterrents include close proximity traffic (19%), fast-moving traffic (18%), when drivers spot police officers (7%), etc., as per cell phones and driving statistics provided by NHTSA.
- According to the AAA Foundation, texting while driving is bound to double a driver’s chances of being involved in a road accident
The same goes for several other distracting behaviors, such as eating, drinking, looking for a specific object in the car, or trying to set up the entertainment or navigation system fitted on the vehicle, as reported by stats on texting and driving.
Source: AAA Traffic Safety Foundation
- Similarly, texting and driving makes it six times more likely to rear-end another vehicle
The argument behind this claim is fairly simple. When you are texting and driving, you do not look ahead, thus you are less aware of sudden traffic stops, slowdowns or similar events. This fact is also true for all teenage distracted driving statistics.
Source: AAA Traffic Safety Foundation
The Impact of Texting While Driving on Insurance Premiums
- Current estimates determine that a texting and driving violation can lead to a $290 annual increase in insurance premiums
This just goes to show that insurance agencies are bound to sanction irresponsible traffic behavior, given the vastly increased chances of material damage, serious injury, or even death.
Source: The Zebra
- Over the past few years, distracted driving insurance penalties have increased by almost 8,000% in the US
This trend spans outside the US as well. Hence, if you want to lower your monthly insurance premium, it is best to avoid using cell phones and driving at the same time.
Source: The Zebra
We can all agree on the fact that texting and driving, as well as distracted driving, in general, represent extremely dangerous roadside behaviors that can lead to serious injury and even death. At the moment, it is essential for authorities and NGOs to carry out educational campaigns meant to increase public awareness of this phenomenon. Smartphone usage is actively growing; therefore lack of action will probably increase the likelihood of roadside accidents occurring.
Hopefully, these texting and driving statistics will help spread awareness and discourage drivers from undertaking such foolish behavior in the near future.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many deaths a year are caused by texting and driving?
Research on the matter suggests that between 3,500–5,000 deaths happen every year due to texting and driving in the US. The numbers have unfortunately increased over the past few years. The same could be said for most of the world’s countries.
2. How many accidents are caused by texting and driving?
Approximately 1.6 million text and drive accidents occur every year in the US. In fact, 1 in 4 accidents is due to distracted driving (involving the use of a mobile device).
3. How likely are you to crash while texting?
Texting and driving entails the inability to be attentive while behind the wheel, which is essential for roadside safety. As such, a person who texts and drives is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident resulting in either material damage, injury, or death.
4. Is texting and driving more dangerous than drinking?
The answer to this question depends on how much a person has been drinking. Generally, texting and driving facts suggest that the practice is six times more dangerous as compared to driving under the influence of alcohol.
5. How can we stop texting while driving?
In general, the prevalence of this behavior can be reduced through aggressive educational campaigns, alongside drastic sanctions. On a personal level, the behavior can be curbed by placing one’s phone out of reach, blocking incoming messages, and mounting the phone on the dashboard for navigation purposes only. Such actions may help reduce the death toll and general figures of texting and driving statistics in the near future.