Common Perceptions About Distracted Drivers and Fatal Accidents

Common perceptions today are that distracted drivers cause catastrophic accidents and distracted driving is on the rise.  New information transitions these assumptions into reality.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration earlier this month released its latest report on distracted drivers.  The data come from 2016; the most recent year final numbers are available.  And despite increased warnings, the number of fatal crashes caused by distracted drivers continues to be significant.

Number of Fatal Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers Remains High

In 2016, 9 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes were caused by a distracted driver.  That’s down a tick from 2015, a year that saw 10 percent of all deadly car and truck crashes attributed to distracted drivers.  But still, in 2016, a total of 3,450 men, women and children lost their lives in crashes caused by a distracted driver.

Distractions behind the wheel take many forms.  Drivers can needlessly take their eyes of the road to fiddle with the radio, have something to eat or drink, talk to passengers, smoke, or simply daydream.

The percentage of fatal accidents caused by drivers specifically distracted by cell phones remained unchanged between 2016 and 2015.  In both years, 14 percent of all fatal wrecks involved cell phone use.  Per the federal government report, cell phone use while driving takes several forms.  Drivers using their cell phones in a hands free fashion can be preoccupied and cause a fatal accident.  Simply reaching for a cell phone to use while driving can be a deadly distraction.

Age of Drivers Most Responsible for Distracted Fatal Crashes

Other common perceptions are that younger drivers use their cell phones more compared to older, experienced drivers, and less inexperienced drivers are more distracted as a whole than other groups. The new federal report does not bear this out.

Drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old represented 9 percent of all distracted drivers responsible for fatal wrecks in 2016.  This group also represented 13 percent of all drivers using their cell phones when a deadly crash occurred.

The group that had the most number of distracted drivers who caused fatal crashes were those between the ages of 20 and 29.  This group represented 28 percent of all distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents, and 35 percent of all drivers who were on a cell phone at the time of a deadly wreck.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member die in a car or truck crash caused by another driver, you may have good reason to assume the driver was distracted.  Contact a motor vehicle accident attorney to investigate on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog April 12, 2018