Distracted Driving Report – The States With the Least and Most Distracted Driving
The data for 2020 was just released by the NHTSA in April 2022, and it shows that traffic deaths have surged in many areas – for example, drunk driving fatalities have not been this high in over a decade. Distracted driving, however, shows a glimmer of hope.
Each year, thousands of drivers and passengers are fatally injured as a result of distracted driving. In 2020, it’s estimated that 3,125 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and hundreds of thousands were injured.
In this report, we’ve crunched the latest numbers to find out what the major causes of distracted driving are, the trends over the last years, and in which states distracted driving results in the most fatal road accidents. We’ve then ranked each state from best to worst.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Due to the nature of being less focused on driving, distracted driving will drastically increase the chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. At 100 mph, being distracted for just 1 second will mean the vehicle travels 146 feet.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) divides the most common driver distractions into several categories. These include distractions that happen inside the vehicle (for example: becoming distracted by a passenger in a rear seat) and distractions that occur outside the vehicle (for example: looking at an external object).
How has distracted driving changed through the years?
Distracted driving continues to be a big part of the total traffic accidents in the United States. Since 2015, the total number of distracted driving crashes resulting in an injury have bounced between 265,000 to 295,000 crashes each year. In 2020 this number has dropped significantly, down to 215,000.
Is there any difference between men and women?
Yes. Men are more than twice as likely to be involved in a fatal distracted driving accident compared to women. What does this mean exactly? Well, male drivers were distracted in 2125 fatal crashes in 2020, whereas women drivers were only distracted in 781 fatal crashes during the same period.
|State||Male Drivers Involved in Fatal Distracted Crashes||Female Drivers Involved in Fatal Distracted Crashes||Total|
|District of Columbia||2||0||2|
About 8% of crashes with injuries can be attributed to cell phones, with the percentage growing in relation to the severity of the accident. Cell phones can be attributed to about 13% of fatal distracted driving accidents. This is not surprising, since cell phone use will directly impact your ability to react to hazards. Speaking on a mobile phone while driving increases crash risk by 2 times, while texting increases the crash risk by up to 6 times.
Texting while driving on average takes about five seconds according to the NHTSA – if you’re driving 55 mph, that’s the same as driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.
States with the most distracted driving
For the second year in a row, New Mexico has the most distracted driving in the country, receiving a severity score of 99.98. According to statistics by NHTSA, New Mexico reported 139 distracted driving crashes in 2020. New Mexico reported 10 distracted driving deaths for every 100,000 drivers, and 38% of all fatal crashes in the state were due to distracted driving.
The second worst state is Kansas (51.21), followed by Louisiana (50.19), Wyoming (49.8), Kentucky (34.66), Illinois (31.84), New Jersey (30.31), Hawaii (30.25), Washington (29.55), and Virginia (26.42).
States with the least distracted driving
Also for the second year in a row, Mississippi is the state with the least distracted driving, receiving a severity score of 4.62. Only 1.5% of the state’s fatal crashes were reported to have been due to distracted driving and the state had 0.55 distracted driving deaths per 100,000 drivers.
Mississippi was followed by California (5.46), Nevada ( 6.21), Connecticut (6.69), West Virginia (6.85), Rhode Island (8.01) , Iowa (8.47), Georgia (8.65), Arkansas (9.11), and Delaware (9.31).
The large difference in distracted driving crashes could, in part, be attributed to different state guidelines on reporting distracted driving accidents. It can also be a result of extensive work by local governments on tackling distracted driving through anti-text laws, awareness campaigns, and more.
The complete list of distracted driving statistics for each state
|State Ranking (Worst to Best)||Total Distracted Driving Fatalities||Distracted Driving Deaths per 100 000 Licensed Drivers||Percentage of Fatal Crashes Involving Distracted Driving||Distracted Driving Severity Score|
|District of Columbia||2||0.38||5.88%||9.63|
Data in this report has been gathered from different governmental websites, including the Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) developed by NHTSA, the use of electronic devices, and fatal road crashes and injuries involving different age groups.
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