In 2005, ten percent of fatal accidents were directly attributable to distracted driving. By last year, that number had increased to sixteen percent of fatal accidents, meaning that 5,474 people died on the roads because someone wasn’t paying attention. Twenty percent of traffic accidents that resulted in injury last year were also attributable to distracted driving, and the age group with the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents was those under age 20. The group involved in the highest number of fatal accidents specifically tied to cell phone use was 30 to 39 year olds.
The study doesn’t speculate on why distracted driving is up, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out with the “constant contact” mentality of today’s cell phone addicted society. If that’s not enough of a distraction, cars now have nav systems, video systems and factory mega-watt stereos that didn’t exist years ago. Longer working hours and worse commutes make multi-tasking behind the wheel a fact of life for some.
What may be more sobering is the fact that these are only the documented and reported numbers. How many crashes, for example, aren’t specifically identified as distraction-related but are caused by eating, drinking, texting, shaving, etc.? I may not agree with LaHood on a lot of topics, but he’s definitely on the money with his campaign to end distracted driving.