Crash Experience Related to Cell Phone Use or Other Distracted Driving

Involvement in a Crash as a Result of Wireless Phone Use
About one quarter (26%) of drivers have been involved in a crash in the past five years where there was damage to a vehicle. Slightly less than one percent (.6%) of those involved in a crash (.1% of all drivers) attribute the crash to wireless phone use. Drivers under age 30 are more likely to have been involved in such a crash, with .3% of all drivers this age having been in a crash they attribute to wireless phone use. [Figure 8-A]

Though the proportion of drivers involved in a crash they attribute to wireless phone use is very small, it relates to an estimated 292,000 drivers over the past five years. Female drivers report about two-thirds of these crash experiences (about 197,000). [Figure 8-B]

Involvement in a Crash as a Result of Distracted Driving

A larger proportion of drivers have been involved in a crash as a result of other distracted driving activities. About 14% of drivers involved in a crash in the past five years (3.5% of all drivers) attribute the crash to distracted driving. Male drivers (4.7%) were about twice as likely as female drivers (2.3%) to have done so. [Figure 8-A]

Drivers under age 30 were significantly more likely to have been in a crash they attribute to distracted driving (about 6%), with involvement in such a crash decreasing directly with age to less than 2% of drivers 65 or older.

Figure 8-C shows the estimated number of drivers involved in a crash they attribute to distracted driving in the past five years along with likely high and low ranges of the estimates. It is important to keep in mind that these are self-reported data and are subject to potential recall errors, particularly as they cover a large time frame.

Over the past five years an estimated 7.2 million drivers have been in a crash while driving which they attribute to being distracted. About 4.7 million, or two-thirds, of these drivers, were male. Youth drivers make up a disproportionally large number of these drivers. About 985,000 drivers under age 21 were involved in a distracted-driving crash. This is 13% of all drivers involved in a crash, yet youth drivers make up just 6% of the driving population. Similarly, about 1.7 million drivers in their 20s had a distracted-related crash, which is 23% of all involved drivers. However, drivers in their 20s account for just 13% of the driving population. Conversely, just 592,000 drivers over age 64 report a crash. This is 8% of drivers in a crash, while these older drivers make up 17% of the population. [Figure 8-C]

Cause of the Distraction That Led to a Crash

Of the approximately 7.2 million drivers involved in a distracted-related crash within the past five years, nearly one-quarter (23%) say they were distracted by looking for something outside the vehicle, (0.8% of all drivers) such as a building or street sign, while an additional 11% were distracted by another driver (0.4% of drivers), and 3% were distracted by an animal outside of the car. About one of five (19%) drivers involved in a distracted-related crash (0.7% of all drivers) were dealing with a child or other passenger. One in seven (14% or 0.5% of all drivers) were looking for something inside the vehicle. An additional one in five were distracted by some other distraction. [Figure 8-D]