How Many Deaths Are Caused By Distracted Driving Every Year?

What a question, and what a tough answer. One of the most important aspects of what we do as an injury law firm is that we analyze data all the time to make sure that we are making the correct decisions in the courtroom and that we are helping our clients who are often the victims of negligent drivers… sometimes even distracted drivers. So we often have to look at the data and know exactly how many deaths are caused by distracted driving every year because that will be a question that is asked in a courtroom or a question that changes the facts of our case.

No text No call written on road Road safety

In 2019 – 3,142 Lives Were Lost

That’s right. In 2019, distracted driving caused 3,142 deaths in one year. These are also the cases where we can prove distracted driving. Many times, drivers do not admit to driving distracted.

If you are driving your vehicle, it is important to keep your eyes focused on the road. Of course, we know that. But it’s more difficult to put into practice.

Distracted driving is not only dangerous and a cause of concern for everyone on the road, it is also something that most of us have done at some point. And we have to admit it. Even after a long day at work, we may have made some poor decisions while driving. Or we were looking for an address on our phone, or trying to change the station on the radio… these are still examples of distracted driving.

Distracted Driving is the Cause of Most Car Accidents

The majority of crashes happen because of driver error. And to err is human fair enough. These errors include things that we cannot avoid and it’s true that some distractions could even be called understandable. For example, a cat running along the side of the road, posing a possible danger. Or incredible Holiday lights on a house. Some distractions are understandable.

But some are a little less forgivable. Texting is a real problem in the U.S. and that’s something we will discuss in detail below. Driver error can also mean a lot of things. However, the most popular reason for driver error is driving distracted. This can only happen when a driver tries to multitask.

That said, hundreds of thousands of people get injured each year in car accidents that involve distracted drivers.

Most common causes of distracted driving

  • Texting or talking
  • Relying too much on GPS
  • Adjusting car controls or hearing loud music
  • Applying makeup
  • Failure to look at the road
  • Having pets or children onboard
  • Eating while driving
  • Reaching for things in the backseat
  • Holding a full bladder
  • Hands-free technology
  • Driving while sad or angry

Read more about the common causes of car accidents here.

Driving performance, decision-making, and situational awareness can also be affected mainly because of distracted driving. Thus, there are four types of distracted driving issues.

  • Visual – looking away from the road to do non-driving-related tasks
  • Cognitive – reflecting on the conversation instead of analyzing the situation of the road
  • Physical – holding the device or dialing the mobile phone instead of keeping the hands on the steering wheel
  • Auditory – responding to mobile phone notification ringing

Distracted driving causes death each year

In 2018 alone, the U.S. reported a total of 2,841 deaths due to distracted driving. Moreover, 1 in 5 of those who died in the car accident that involved distracted driving in the same year were just walking, riding their bicycles, or outside a vehicle.

Young adults: 25% of distracted drivers who were in fatal crashes were aged 20-29.

Teens: Drivers aged 15-19 were among those that get distracted compared to drivers 20 or older in fatal crashes. Among them, 8% were distracted at the time of the crash. 9% of all teens who died in car crashes were due to distracted driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that from 2014 to 2018, among those who were in fatal crashes were more likely drivers aged 15-19 years old because of distracted driving.

  • 15-19 years old – 8%
  • 20-29 years old – 6%
  • 30-39 years old – 5%
  • 40-49 years old – 5%
  • 50-59 years old – 4%
  • 60-69 years old – 4%
  • 70 or more – 5%

Overall, texting and driving are considered the main cause of distracted driving among teens and young adults. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, cellphone use while driving has led to 1.6 million car accidents each year.

That said, 1 out of 4 car accidents is caused by texting and driving in the U.S. Moreover, this is six times more likely to cause a car accident compared to driving drunk.

What Can You Do About it?

The best offense is a great defense. What that means for writers is to learn how to drive defensively. You should learn how to manage your expectations on the road and drive with the expectation that many of the drivers around you are likely checking their phones, looking for songs, or talking to other passengers.

You cannot control those drivers, but you can make a conscious effort to make sure that you are focused on your own driving. Be safe, drive safe, and do your part not to drive distracted. Save a life and focus on the road!



About The Author

Michael Steinger

Michael Steinger

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.