Distracted Driving
Fact Sheet

Distractions are the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes and the number one distraction is cell phones.
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Distracted Driving Fact Sheet

The use of a cell phone while driving is a very high-risk behavior with significant impact on society. More than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies have identified the risks associated with cell phone use while driving.

  • It is estimated that more than 100 million people use cell phones while driving.
  • According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), an estimated 354,415 passenger vehicle drivers hold cell phones to their ears while driving at a typical daylight moment in 2020.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at any given daylight moment across America, there are about 660,000 drivers using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.
  • Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash.
  • According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, the annual cost of crashes caused by cell phone use is estimated to be $43 billion.
  • No difference exists in the cognitive distraction between handheld and hands-free devices, according to the University of Utah’s simulator studies.
  • One recent simulator study compared drivers using cell phones and drivers impaired by alcohol. Cell phone users had slower reaction times than drivers with .08 BAC and slower reaction to vehicles braking in front of them.
  • A Carnegie Mellon study took pictures of the brain while drivers listened to sentences and drove on a simulator. The drivers listening to sentences had a 37% reduction in spatial awareness, which can directly contribute to cognitive distraction.
  • Talking to a passenger while driving is significantly safer than talking on a cell phone, a University of Utah study found. Passengers, unlike cell phone conversations, can make the driver aware of changing road conditions they might not see and can stop the conversation if traffic conditions warrant.

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