By: Jeffrey Lapin

The statistics are alarming for accidents caused by driver distraction. “Distracted driving” is usually defined as “any cognitive, manual and/or visual non-driving activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from driving.”

Below is the accident statistical data for 2009, the last year in which completed reports have been published:


30,797 fatal crashes in the United States, which involved 45,230 drivers. In those crashes 33,808 people died.

5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving, which is 16% of all motor vehicle fatalities.

There was a 6% increase, from 10% to 16%, in the proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction from 2005 to 2009.

An estimated 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.

20% of injury crashes involved reports of distracted driving.

16% of all drivers younger than age 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving, which is the largest percentage per age group.

13% of all 20-to-29-year-old drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted, which is the second largest percentage per age group.

Drivers aged 30-to-39-year-old had the highest proportion of fatal crashes due to distractions by cell phones.

Cell phone distraction was reported for 24% of the 30-to-39-year-old distracted drivers in fatal crashes.

Light-truck drivers and motorcyclists had the greatest percentage of total drivers reported as distracted at the time of the fatal crash (12% each).

Bus drivers had the lowest percentage (6%) of total drivers involved in fatal crashes that were reported as distraction-related.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

A University of Utah study found that the use of a cell phone while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.


Total crashes: 34,665 (averages out to 1 crash every 15 minutes).

Injury Crashes: 12,211.

Persons Injured: 17,775 (averages out to 49 injured people each day).

Fatal Crashes: 205.

Fatalities: 223 (averages out to 1 person killed every 39 hours).

“Mobile phone distraction” was listed as the cause of: 155 total crashes; 0 fatal crashes; and 68 injury crashes.

“Distracted – other” was listed as the cause of: 317 total crashes; 1 fatal crash; and 140 injury crashes.


United States Department of Transportation [internal sources omitted]; and

State of Nebraska Department of Roads’ 2009 Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report