distracted driving

Distracted Driving Report – The States With the Least and Most Distracted Driving

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Jun 02, 2022

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).

The major causes of distraction based on crash statistics by the NHTSA.

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.

StateMale Drivers Involved in Fatal Distracted CrashesFemale Drivers Involved in Fatal Distracted CrashesTotal
Alabama371552
Alaska246
Arizona381250
Arkansas13619
California712596
Colorado342054
Connecticut8210
Delaware325
District of Columbia202
Florida19090280
Georgia391655
Hawaii7613
Idaho11819
Illinois15045195
Indiana281139
Iowa10313
Kansas622890
Kentucky652691
Louisiana11637153
Maine11314
Maryland301141
Massachusetts24731
Michigan321749
Minnesota19625
Mississippi4610
Missouri542377
Montana10111
Nebraska12113
Nevada639
New Hampshire516
New Jersey811394
New Mexico10133134
New York8628114
North Carolina9038128
North Dakota718
Ohio381654
Oklahoma331750
Oregon27936
Pennsylvania421254
Rhode Island213
South Carolina33538
South Dakota426
Tennessee511869
Texas24678324
Utah16319
Vermont336
Virginia7927106
Washington562177
West Virginia617
Wisconsin181230
Wyoming13821
Total2,1257812,906

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 FatalitiesDistracted Driving Deaths per 100 000 Licensed DriversPercentage of Fatal Crashes Involving Distracted DrivingDistracted Driving Severity Score
New Mexico14810.0538.08%99.98
Kansas904.4921.99%51.21
Louisiana1664.8619.82%50.19
Wyoming225.1518.42%49.80
Kentucky1043.5812.83%34.66
Illinois1852.2515.73%31.84
New Jersey971.5617.18%30.31
Hawaii141.5217.28%30.25
Washington911.5716.57%29.55
Virginia1121.9012.94%26.42
Texas3692.099.29%22.59
Oklahoma562.208.51%22.10
Alaska71.3511.32%21.58
Idaho211.6310.11%21.40
Vermont71.5210.34%21.14
North Carolina1391.829.07%20.96
Florida2941.878.84%20.92
Missouri841.978.42%20.87
New York1180.9711.94%20.49
Colorado681.589.23%19.99
Maine151.439.27%19.29
North Dakota81.488.33%18.33
Montana161.946.32%17.92
Oregon381.297.59%16.39
Massachusetts320.659.48%15.67
Tennessee741.526.26%15.76
Alabama571.416.10%15.03
Maryland440.997.59%14.88
Nebraska151.045.99%13.05
Utah170.796.64%12.65
Minnesota280.686.78%12.30
Arizona560.995.17%11.69
New Hampshire60.576.12%10.85
Indiana400.884.79%10.67
Wisconsin320.745.17%10.48
South Dakota60.914.55%10.50
Pennsylvania590.665.09%9.98
South Carolina380.973.95%10.03
District of Columbia20.385.88%9.63
Michigan510.734.65%9.71
Ohio550.684.68%9.52
Delaware50.604.81%9.31
Arkansas210.973.25%9.11
Georgia590.783.61%8.65
Iowa130.574.28%8.47
Rhode Island30.414.55%8.01
West Virginia70.642.81%6.85
Connecticut100.403.58%6.69
Nevada90.443.07%6.21
California1060.392.67%5.46
Mississippi110.551.46%4.62

Methodology

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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