The Case Against Distracted Driving: Facts, Statistics, and the Law

Numbers don’t lie – distracted driving increases the risk of accidents. Numerous studies have been conducted. So how much does the chance for an accident increase when drivers are distracted? How many people are using phones or otherwise distracted while driving? Is there a law against cell phone use while driving?

To spread the word during Distracted Driving Awareness Month and help answer those questions, we’ve compiled data from many different resources into easy-to-understand facts, and we’re presenting them as shareable graphics. Feel free to grab them and use them on social media or for presentations. Show them to your friends. The risk of being in an accident caused by a distracted driver is very, very real.

As experienced personal injury attorneys with many years working car accident injury cases, we mean business when we say: don’t drive distracted.

distracted driving fatalities in 2018 by type of victim


accident chances while distracted driving by type of distraction


economic impact of distracted driving ($40 million per year) vs. drunk driving ($44 million per year)


texting and driving is 6x more likely to lead to a crash than drinking and driving


Women and 16-24 year olds are more likely to be on the phone while driving



leading causes for driver error accidents in NC are speeding (33%), distracted driving (20%), and drunk driving (4%)


North Carolina forbids texting or emailing while driving


North Carolina fines $100 for emailing while driving, using a phone while driving a bus, and under 18 with provisional license


one of our every three female drivers admitted to taking photos while driving


Beware iPhone Users

A survey of mobile device users by The Zebra revealed some stunning differences between respondents who used different mobile operating systems.

iphone users are more likely to watch videos, text and drive, and respond to messages than android


660,000 drivers are using their cell phones while driving at any point during a day

1.6 million accidents each year are caused by texting and driving with 330,000 injuries

The typically car takes 563 feet to stop after checking a text message while driving 60mph


19.5% of mobile users completely disagree that distractions impair ability to drive


Cell Phones, Driving, and the Law Across the U.S.

As of October 2019, 20 states and the District of Columbia banned handheld devices while driving, while 48 states plus D.C. have banned texting while driving with Montana having no ban, and Missouri having only a partial one. And 38 states, plus D.C., have enacted blanket bans on cell phone use while driving for younger drivers, though how they classify those drivers differs by state.

20/50 states banned handheld devices while driving, 48/50 banned texting, 38/50 banned for young drivers


38% of drivers 18-24 said familiar with state's texting and driving laws, 36% text and drive, 55% thought illegal in all states


Police Aren’t Always Capturing the Real Cause of Distracted Driving Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, no state fully captures the data required to understand what actually causes crashes to enable safety organizations to effectively address the problem.

The crash reports used by police are plainly lacking. Here are some critical data points and the number of states which fail to track them on their accident reports:

No states track driver fatigue or advance driver assistance technology on police reports


List of driver distractions including texting, children, grooming, and eating


voice-to-text offers no safety advantage over texting manually


The Gender Gap in Distracted Driving

According to data gathered in 2015, there are some interesting gaps in behavior regarding distracted driving between men and women:

Women are slightly more likely to be more cautious with texting or emailing while driving


1 out of 4 car accidents are from texting and driving, 21% of teen accidents on phone


Motivators for why people text and drive


Along for the Ride: How Passengers Say They Feel About Distracted Drivers

Driving while distracted is bad enough. Being a passenger and having your well-being in the hands of someone more interested in a text than the road? Most people aren’t having it:

most passengers do not feel safe with drivers sending or reading texts or emails while driving


Cell phones caused 26% of car accidents in the U.S. in 2014


Most to least distracting: Speech to text, driving and talking on a handheld, and driving hands-free

About the Author

Alexandria Tuttle practices personal injury law in North Carolina for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Her journey includes working full-time as a lead paralegal for the firm during the day and attending law school at night for four straight years. She strives to make a personal connection with her clients and find the right way to explain the many steps of a case. In addition to being an active member of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin’s Social Services Committee, Alexandria is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association.