2023 Distracted Driving Statistics

Posted On December 26, 2023 / By Manning Law / Car Accidents,Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous, yet most common, driver mistakes. In today’s age of technology, driver distractions are more abundant than ever before. Every driver has a responsibility to pay attention to the road and avoid distractions, including texting and driving. Unfortunately, Denver car accident attorneys have seen distracted driving continuing to be a significant cause of car accident injuries and deaths in the United States in 2023 and beyond.

How Many Distracted Driving Car Accidents Occurred in 2023?

Data on distracted driving automobile accidents in the U.S. is published with a delay of about two years. This means that by the end of 2023, the most recent year distracted driving car accident data is available is 2021. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,522 victims lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2021. This represented 8 percent of all traffic accident deaths that year.

From 2020 to 2021, the number of victims killed in distracted driving accidents increased by 380 victims. In 2021, distracted driving car accidents accounted for 14 percent of injury crashes and 13 percent of police-reported crashes. Overall, 32,657 people died in car accidents involving distracted drivers in the 10 years between 2012 and 2021. In addition to the victims killed, 362,415 people reported injuries from motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers that decade. 

Data from the NHTSA also found that the economic cost of distracted driving crashes in the U.S. was $98 billion in 2019 (the most recent year this data is available). This amount includes the costs of property damage, insurance administration, medical expenses, emergency services, lost productivity, and legal and court costs.

Who Are the Most Common Culprits? 

Distracted driving car accident statistics consistently show that younger people are responsible for the highest number of distraction-related collisions. Drivers in the age group from 15 to 20 years old are the most likely to drive while distracted. NHTSA data for 2021 found that the 15 to 20 age group accounted for 11 percent of all distracted drivers despite only making up 8 percent of drivers involved in fatal car accidents that year.

What Is the Most Common Type of Distracted Driving?

Cell phone use is the primary cause of fatal distracted driving accidents in the U.S. Cell phones are a particularly dangerous crash risk because they meet all three types of distraction: manual, visual and cognitive. Manipulating a cell phone to read or send a text message, call someone, or access social media takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off the driving task simultaneously. This drastically affects a driver’s ability to pay attention to the road, safely control the vehicle and correctly react to changing roadway situations. 

Distracted Driving Laws in 2023 and Beyond

As of 2023, texting and driving is prohibited in 48 states. Twenty-nine (29) states prohibit all drivers, regardless of age, from manipulating handheld devices. This includes the handheld use of cell phones to talk or text. In addition, 36 states and Washington D.C. ban all cell phone use – including hands-free devices – by novice drivers. Finally, 23 states and D.C. prohibit any cell phone use by school bus drivers.

Thanks in part to many states passing cell phone laws that prohibit the use of electronics while driving, the percentage of drivers using cell phones behind the wheel has decreased from 5.2 percent in 2012 to 2.5 percent in 2021 (source: the National Safety Council). However, the percentage of drivers manipulating any type of handheld electric device increased by 127 percent. This demonstrates the need for continued vigilance and legislative changes to protect the public from the risk of distracted driving.