Distracted Driving Summit Reports New Statistics

Earlier today Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kicked off a historic summit to tackle the dangers of distracted driving. The two-day summit brings together safety experts, researchers, industry representatives, elected officials, and members of the public to share their expertise, experiences, and ideas for reducing distracted driving behavior and addressing the safety risk posed by the growing problem across all modes of transportation. New research presented at the summit shows a disconcerting increase in the use of handheld devices among all drivers.

“Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road - even for just a few seconds - they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” said Secretary LaHood. “Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating.”

In 2008, 5,870 people died and approximately 515,000 people were injured in crashes where police reported driver distraction. Since police cannot always identify instances of driver distraction, the true numbers are likely much higher. On any single day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by people using handheld cell phones. Drivers are also using ipods, video game systems, and GPS systems.

More recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

Driver distraction was reported to have been involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 according to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group—16 percent of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.

An estimated 22 percent of injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving, according to data from the General Estimates System (GES).

Based on data from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), a nationally representative survey of the crashes in which the critical reason for the crash was attributed to the driver, approximately 18 percent involved distraction.

During the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, driver involvement in secondary tasks contributed to over 22 percent of all crashes.

“We now know that the worst offenders are the youngest, least experienced drivers,” said Secretary LaHood. “Unfortunately though, the problem doesn't end there. Distracted driving occurs across all age groups and all modes of transportation, from cars to buses and trucks to trains. We must work together to find solutions that will prevent crashes caused by driver distraction.”

At the end of the summit, Secretary LaHood is expected to announce concrete steps that the Transportation Department will take to combat the problem of distracted driving.

If you want to follow the summit, you can watch it live at dot.gov. You can also visit the MLN Personal Injury Law Blog for updates.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced Georgia accident lawyer as soon as possible. Time is of the essence. For legal advice, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.