Distracted Driving

Learn the Causes and Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving goes beyond simply texting and driving. Did you know that the leading cause of distracted driving crashes happen when teens are interacting with other passengers? Other factors of distracted driving include cell phone use, looking at something inside or outside of the vehicle, moving to music, grooming, and reaching for an object.

It is more important than ever to educate teens and parents on the dangers of distracted driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has long been concerned with the issues of distracted driving and novice drivers. After an investigation, the Board recommended that all states prohibit holders of learner’s permits and intermediate licenses from using cell phones while driving.

A recent study shows that drivers engaged in phone conversations were less aware of traffic movements around them. Keep these distracted driving facts in mind:

  • Using a hands-free unit does not eliminate the distraction of having a cell phone conversation while driving.
  • The NTSB noted that the number of car crashes related to the use of phones while driving is unknown because most jurisdictions do not have driver distraction codes on their accident report forms.
  • Education should be a key component of any effort to reduce the risk of traffic collisions resulting from cellular telephone use; some believe education could prove to be more effective than sanctions.
  • Young drivers do only 20% of their driving at night, but more than half of crash fatalities of adolescent drivers occur during nighttime hours.
  • The risk of a crash involving a teenage driver increases with each additional teen passenger in the vehicle.
  • It only takes a second for a crash to happen. Distractions occur when drivers concentrate on something other than operating their vehicles, such as engaging in cell phone conversations (or watching DVDs!).
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 25% of all crashes involve some form of driver distraction.
  • A recent NHTSA survey found that nearly 75% of drivers reported using their phone while driving and an estimated 60% of cell phone use takes place behind the wheel.

Driving safely can be challenging enough when full attention is given to the road and its potential hazards. Driving while operating a cell phone, adjusting the radio, or eating and drinking can be distracting and potentially dangerous. Here is what you can do to avoid distractions while driving:

  • Drive carefully and responsibly. Concentrate on the road, not on the conversations around you, the music that is playing, or the friend calling on your cell phone.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that beginner drivers should be prohibited from driving between certain times, specifically midnight to 5 a.m.
  • Limit the number of people in the car. The NTSB recommends that young, novice drivers with provisional (intermediate) licenses should have passenger restrictions. Unless accompanied by a supervising adult driver who is at least 21 years old, provisional licensees should be prohibited from carrying more than one passenger under the age of 20 until they receive an unrestricted license or for at least 6 months (whichever is longer).
  • Make adjustments to vehicle controls – such as radios, air conditioning, or mirrors – before beginning to drive or after the car is no longer in motion.
  • Don’t reach down or behind the driver’s seat, pick up items from the floor, open the glove compartment, clean the inside windows, or perform personal grooming while driving.
  • Put your cell phone away while driving. Let your wireless network voice mail pick up your calls when you are driving and answer text messages after you stop.
  • Be a “Cellular Samaritan.” Stop your vehicle and use your cell phone to report crime, emergencies, accidents, or dangerous driving situations. In many places, dialing 911 is free. (Dialing 911 from a cell phone usually reaches state police, so be sure about your location when you call.)
  • If you have to use your phone while driving, pull off the road, stop, and then dial.
  • Get to know your phone and its features, which include speed dial and redial.


SADD is excited to partner with TextLess Live More to expand the resources available to our chapters to end distracted driving.

TextLess Live More is a student-led, peer-to-peer national awareness campaign with a mission to end distracted driving permanently; prevent tragic accidents and deaths caused by distracted driving; and educate and raise awareness about the real dangers of distracted driving such as texting, streaming, posting and engaging in all forms of digital distraction or engagement behind the wheel. TextLess Live More provides free, downloadable resources, such as the TextLess Live More Toolkit, to help students create a successful and engaging distracted driving campaign. TextLess Live More was founded by friends of Merritt Levitan, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate who lost her life on July 3, 2013 to a young driver who was texting while driving.

Distracted Driving Statistics

  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. [FARS and GES]
  • Of those people killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes). [NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2009]
  • Of those injured in distracted-driving-related crashes, 24,000 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (5% of injured people in distraction-related crashes). [NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2009]
  • Sixteen percent of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. [NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2009]
  • Twenty percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving. [NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2009]
  • The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group - 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. [NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, 2009]
  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. [NHTSA]
  • Of those killed in crashes related to distracted driving, 18% of fatalities involved reports of cell phone use as a distraction. [NHTSA]
  • In 2009, an estimated 24,000 people were injured in crashes involving cell phones as the distraction. [NHTSA]
  • Of all people injured in crashes in 2009, one in five was involved in a crash with distraction reported as a cause. [NHTSA]
  • The under-20 age group had the greatest proportion of distracted drivers. Of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes, 16% were reported to have been distracted while driving. [NHTSA]

Distracted driving is just one piece of traffic safety education. For more information about distracted driving, or how to get involved with SADD, feel free to contact us.