Distracted Driving

Overview

Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,179 lives in 2014 alone. NHTSA been leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. We’ve held distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws, and launched an annual public awareness campaign. Get the facts, get involved, and help us keep America’s roads safe.

The Topic

Dangers of Distracted Driving

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

The best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses. On this page, you'll find facts and statistics that are powerfully persuasive. If you don't already think distracted driving is a safety problem, please take a moment to learn more. And, as with everything on Distraction.gov, please share these facts with others. Together, we can help save lives.

Got questions? Visit our FAQ. Want even more information? Look at sample research reports.

The Topic

Risks

How dangerous is it?

Some people still don't know how dangerous distracted driving is. Others know about the risks of texting and talking while driving, but still choose to do so anyway. They make the mistake of thinking the statistics don't apply to them, that they can defy the odds. But, In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Electronic Devices

The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipu­lating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2015. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers. Data shows the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

Is hands-free safer to use while driving?

To date, the research indicates that the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help you avoid a crash.

The Topic

Consequences

State Laws

State Laws For the most current information on State laws visit Distraction.gov State Laws

Currently, 46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 5 have primary enforcement. Of the 4 states without an all driver texting ban, 2 prohibit text messaging by novice drivers, 1 restricts school bus drivers from texting.

The Topic

Responsible Behavior

Staying Safe on the Road

Whether you are a teen, a parent, an educator, or a community member, responsible behavior is key to developing safe driving habits. Check out NHTSA's resources for more information. 

Teens

Did you know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens? And when it comes to distracted driving, young people are among the most likely to text and talk behind the wheel.

Don't become a statistic. Here's how you can keep yourself and others safe when you're out on the road:

Take the Pledge

Commit to being a safe, distraction-free driver. Print out the pledge form, fill it in, and keep it in your car or locker as a reminder to stay off the phone when you're driving.

Be Seen

Share a "Faces of Distracted Driving" video on Facebook or Twitter to let your friends know about the consequences of cell phone use behind the wheel. Change your social networking profile picture to remind your friends that "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All."

Speak Up

Don't stop at being a great driver—be a great passenger! Make sure to call out your friends, and even your parents, if you see them using a cell phone behind the wheel.

Spread the Word

Get involved in promoting safe driving in your community. Hang up posters, host an event on distracted driving, or start a SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) chapter at your school.

Parents

As parents, you're the number one influence on what kind of driver your teens become. Help them develop a lifetime of good driving habits by following these simple steps:

Have the Talk

Driving is a serious responsibility. Discuss what it means to be a safe driver with your teen and set ground rules for when they're behind the wheel. If your teen is on the road, they should stay off the phone.

Make a Family Pledge

Print out the pledge form and have every member of your family commit to distraction-free driving. Set a positive example for your kids by putting your cell phone in the glove compartment every time you drive.

Know the Laws in Your State

Many states have Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws that include cell phone and texting bans for young drivers. Remind your teen driver that there could be serious consequences for violating these laws—including a delayed or suspended license.

Educators

Educators play a crucial role in helping students develop safe driving habits that can last a lifetime. Here's how you can help students get the message on distracted driving:

Run a Pledge Drive

Get the pledge form and set up a table outside classrooms, in your cafeteria, or at a sports event. Give people the facts on distracted driving and help them commit to phone-free driving.

Spread the Word

Hang posters in the hallways and incorporate messages or videos about distracted driving into your morning announcements. Encourage the school newspaper to run an article about the dangers of texting and cell phone use behind the wheel.

Get Parents Involved

Reinforce your safe driving message by sending a letter home to parents that urges them to talk about the dangers of distracted driving with their teens.

Employers

Having a distracted driving policy in place doesn't just make good safety sense—it makes good business sense. Put your employees' safety first with these steps:

Enact a Company Policy on Distracted Driving

Download a sample policy, customize it to your organization's needs, and let your employees know that you support distraction-free driving. Hang up posters in the office to remind employees that "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All."

Encourage Employees to Take—and Share—the Pledge

Distracted driving doesn't become less dangerous when the work day is over. Distribute pledge forms to your employees and urge them to share it with their friends and family.

Community Groups

People drive distracted every day in every community across the country. Be a safety advocate for your friends, family, and neighbors:

Get the Distracted Driving Campaign Starter Kit

Download the campaign starter kit to get all the information you need to create partnerships, work with the media, and raise awareness about distracted driving in your community.

Support Local Distracted Driving Laws

Find out if your state or city has distracted driving laws in place. Support the adoption and enforcement of texting and cell phone bans.

Make Your Voice Heard

Run pledge drives in your community to help spread the word about distracted driving. Write an op-ed for your local newspaper.