Editor's Note: According to the statistics provided below this video, texting on the cell phone while driving is about 6 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated. - LMB
ata regarding car accidents involving cell phone use and/or texting while driving has been limited in the past, but it's slowly becoming available to the public. The information on this page reflects the most current 2009 and 2008 statistics regarding cell phone usage and text messaging during car accidents.
While the popularity of mobile phones has grown enormously in the past two decades, it's still unclear how greatly cell phone calls and texting contribute to car crashes. What is clear is that talking on the phone and texting behind the wheel both lead to distraction, and driver inattention is the leading cause of car accidents.
In 2008, at any given moment, over 800,000 Americans were texting, making calls, or using a handheld cell phone while driving during the daytime. With distracted driving killing nearly 6,000 Americans in the same year, it's no mystery that cell phone use is risky for drivers.
More and more states continue to enact cell phone driving laws to combat these risks. However, with research about the effects of texting and hand-held usage still so young, it has yet to be seen just how much these laws will protect drivers.
2009 Cell Phone and Distracted Driving Statistics
Please note that 2010 and 2011 cell phone and distracted driving statistics are not yet available. Please check back frequently for updated statistics.
- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in the U.S. because of accidents that involved distracted driving. Another 448,000 were injured.
- Of the 5,474 killed because of distracted driving, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a factor. However, the number of fatalities caused by cell phone use could be much higher. For those who were injured, 24,000 involved reports of cell phone use as a distraction.
- The under-20 age group had the highest percentage of distracted drivers; 16% of drivers under 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted while driving.
- The 30- to 39-year-old age group had the highest percentage of cell phone use in fatal crashes.
- More people are driving while distracted when they are involved in fatal crashes. The percentage of fatalities associated with distracted drivers increased from 10% in 2005 to 16% in 2009.
- In 2009, 867 fatal crashes were reported to have involved cell phones as a means for driver distraction (18% of all fatal distracted-driving crashes).
- People driving light trucks and motorcyclists had the highest percentage of total drivers reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes (12% each).
- A teen driver riding with one other passenger doubles the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash. With two or more passengers, the risk increases to five times as likely.
- Research reveals that 46% of drivers under 18 admit to texting while driving. Driver distraction is a factor in 25- to 50% of all car accidents, with 61% of teen drivers admitting to risky driving habits.
- In 2009, the South had the highest percentage of cell phone use while driving at 6%. The Northeast came in at 4%.
Teen Driver Cell Phone and Texting Statistics
- Despite the risks, the majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone driving restrictions.
- Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver's reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.
- 56% of teenagers admit to talking on their cell phones behind the wheel, while 13% admit to texting while driving. (Note: Because this information was given voluntarily by teens, actual cell phone use numbers may be much higher.)
- 48% of young Americans ages 12-17 say they've been in a car while the driver was texting.
- 52% of 16- and 17-year-old teen drivers confess to making and answering cell phone calls on the road. 34% admit to text messaging while driving.
- In 2007, driver distractions, such as using a cell phone or text messaging, contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers.
- Over 60% of American teens admit to risky driving, and nearly half of those that admit to risky driving also admit to text messaging behind the wheel.
- Each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year.
- Almost 50% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 are texting while driving.
- Over one-third of all young drivers, ages 24 and under, are texting on the road.
- Teens say that texting is their number one driver distraction.
Cell Phones, Text Messaging, and Car Accident Information for All Drivers
- Talking on a cell phone causes nearly 25% of car accidents.
- One-fifth of experienced adult drivers in the United States send text messages while driving.
- In 2008 almost 6,000 people were killed and a half-million were injured in crashes related to driver distraction.
- At any given time during daylight hours in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone.
- 4 out of every 5 accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 1 out of 3 (33%) of all accidents nationally.
- Texting while driving is about 6 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated.
- A study of dangerous driver behavior released in January 2007 by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. found that of 1,200 surveyed drivers, 73% talk on cell phones while driving. The same 2007 survey found that 19% of motorists say they text message while driving.
- In 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 10% of drivers are on handheld or hands free cell phones at any given hour of the day.
- A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Motorists found that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
- In 2002, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis calculated that 2,600 people die each year as a result of using cellphones while driving. They estimated that another 330,000 are injured.
- According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, drivers talking on cell phones are 18% slower to react to brake lights. They also take 17% longer to regain the speed they lost when they braked
- Of cell phone users that were surveyed, 85% said they use their phones occasionally when driving, 30% use their phones while driving on the highway, and 27% use them during half or more of the trips they take.
- 84% of cell phone users stated that they believe using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of being in an accident.
- The majority of Americans believe that talking on the phone and texting are two of the most dangerous behaviors that occur behind the wheel. Still, as many as 81% of drivers admit to making phone calls while driving.
- The number of crashes and near-crashes linked to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Dialing is more dangerous but occurs less often than talking or listening.
- Studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400% increase in time spent with eyes off the road.
Study Reveals the Dangers of Texting While Driving
- Of all cell phone related tasks - including talking, dialing, or reaching for the phone - texting while driving is the most dangerous.
- Teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near crash events directly related to talking on a cell phone or texting.
- A car driver dialing a cell phone is 2.8 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-distracted driver.
- A driver reaching for a cell phone or any other electronic device is 1.4 times more likely to experience a car crash.
- A car driver talking on their phone is 1.3 times more likely to get into an accident.
- A truck driver texting while driving is 23.2 times more likely to get into an accident than a trucker paying full attention to the road.
- A truck driver dialing a cell is 5.9 times more likely to crash.
- A trucker reaching for a phone or other device is 6.7 times more likely to experience a truck accident.
- For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road. This makes texting the most distracting of all cell phone related tasks.
Pennsylvania Cell Phone Car Crash Stats
In Pennsylvania, although there are no laws regarding talking on the cell or sending text messages while driving, there are emerging statistics that show the connection between cell phone use and car wrecks.
- There were 23,059 crashes involving 16- to 19-year-olds in 2008, resulting in 194 deaths. Driver distraction contributed to about 10% of them, but the number could be much higher.
- From 2003 to 2006, car accidents from cell phone use led to 50 deaths across the state of Pennsylvania.
- Cell phone-related car accidents shot up 43% in western Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2006.
- A normal, undistracted driver fails to notice an important road event (like another driver mistake) 3% of the time. An adult dialing a cell phone misses that event 13% of the time, and a teenager dialing a cell phone misses it 53% of the time.
- According to PennDOT, from 2002 to 2006 there were 5,715 car accidents linked to the use of handheld cell phones in PA.
- PennDOT also reports 367 accidents in the same time period involving hands free cell phones or Bluetooth communication devices.
- In 2004 alone, handheld cell phone use contributed to over 1,170 Pennsylvania car crashes.
- Accidents involving talking or texting on a cell phone rose from 168 in 2003 to 228 in 2005 in the Western Pennsylvania region. That’s a 36 % increase in over two years.