Facts + Statistics: Distracted driving

Activities that take drivers’ attention off the road, including talking or texting on cellphones, eating, conversing with passengers and other distractions, are a major safety threat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gauges distracted driving by collecting data on distraction-affected crashes,  which focus on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement such as dialing a cellphone or texting and being distracted by another person or an outside event. In 2015, 3,477 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, and 391,000 people were injured. There were 3,196 distraction-affected fatal crashes, accounting for 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the nation, 15 percent of injury crashes and 14 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in 2015.


Fatal Crashes Affected By Distracted Drivers, 2015

  Crashes Drivers Fatalities
Total fatal crashes 32,166 48,613 35,092
Distracted-affected fatal crashes      
Number of distracted-affected fatal crashes 3,196 3,263 3,477
Percent of total fatal crashes 10% 7% 10%
Cellphone in use in distracted-affected
fatal crashes
Number of cellphone distracted-affected fatal crashes 442 456 476
Percent of fatal distracted-affected crashes 14% 14% 14%

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables


  • In 2015, 14 percent of distraction-affected crashes occurred while a cell phone was in use. 
  • Distraction was a factor in 10 percent of fatal crashes reported in 2015


Driver Hand-Held Cellphone Use By Age, 2007-2016 (1)

(1) Percent of drivers using hand-held cellphones.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Graphs


NHTSA’s website, Distraction.gov has more information on distracted driving. “It Can Wait”, a public awareness campaign funded by four by wireless carriers, provides resources on the dangers of distracted driving, including “From One Second to the Next”, a film by director Werner Herzog profiling the victims of distracted driving.

Distracted driving, fueled by the proliferation of smart phones is one of the factors contributing to the recent spike in accident claims. Insurers are increasingly partnering with app developers or creating their own apps that curb distracted driving by limiting the drivers ability to use their smartphones while driving.

Back to top