It’s no secret that car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Over the past decade, thousands of people have lost their lives in fatal car crashes.
Here are the statistics of car accidents from 2008 to 2017. 
We’ve written a separate article on the various causes of car accidents.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into one of the well-known causes of car accidents: cell phones.
Specifically, we’re going to cover:
So let’s begin….
The BIGGEST lie about cell phone accidents.
There is no question that the rise of mobile devices has led to increased risky behavior for drivers on the road.
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 415,693 drivers used cell phones on a typical day .
An average American adult sends and receives about 32 messages every day . That’s about 18 billion text messages daily in the US, 541 billion texts every month, and 6.5 trillion texts every year!
This rapid rise in cell phone usage has dramatically increased the risk of individuals being distracted while driving.
Experts estimate that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. If you’re driving at 55 mph, that would be the same as driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. That’s incredibly dangerous behavior; not just for the drivers but also for other driving vehicles/pedestrians on the road.
Often, the numbers are quite large when you hear about cell phone accident statistics. In fact, it no longer surprises people when they learn about dramatic cell phone accident statistics such as:
“Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.”
This number claim to be quoted from the National Safety Council. Because of the supposed source’s legitimacy, many others have cited the statistic.
Unfortunately, it’s not entirely accurate and was, in fact, exaggerated for shock value.
It’s a misquoting of the actual statistic, which is that in 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving all types of distracted driving.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is ANY behavior that can divert your attention while driving. This behavior can include:
- falling asleep
- looking away while changing the radio station
- fiddling with the car’s air conditioner controls
- having conversations with other people in the car
…. and of course, using your cell phone.
Here are the most common sources of distracted driving:
As you can see, cell phone accidents are not the ONLY source of all those 391,000 distracted driving accidents.
So What are the REAL Cell Phone Accident Statistics?
In 2017 there were approximately 35,000 fatal car crashes. 
Of those fatal accidents, 9% were related to Distraction-Affected (D-A). And of those deadly distracted driving accidents, 14% were due to cell phones.
This trend of D-A and cell phone fatal accidents has been consistent for the past several years.
Cell Phone Driving Accidents By Age
Let’s admit it, most “grown-ups” of today would blame teenagers for being the major contributors to car crashes, especially distracted driving-related accidents. However, this does not seem to be the case!
In 2017, approximately 52,000 drivers were involved in fatal crashes, and nearly 3,000 were due to distracted driving . Here is the distribution of the accidents by age group.
Here is the distribution of what percentage of these accidents were due to distracted driving:
As you can see from the above graphs, drivers under the age of 30 accounted for a higher percentage for both distracted accidents and cell phone accidents.
How many people use Cell Phones while driving?
To understand why there are so many cell phone accidents, it’s useful to know how people use their phones while driving.
The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) identifies three types of driver electronic device use while driving:
- Holding Phone to Ears
- Speaking with Visible Headsets
- Visibly Manipulating Handheld Devices
Below are the percentages of drivers involved in these behaviors. These percentages were based on 415,953 drivers on a typical day in 2017.
It is estimated 5.3% of the drivers were using some type of phone, either handheld or hands-free on a given day. That’s around 22,000 drivers using their cell phones while driving per day!
It was observed that handheld cell phone use was higher among female drivers than male drivers.
It was also shown that young drivers (between 16-24) were observed to have higher rates of using their phones, both handheld and visibly manipulating them.
While we mentioned earlier that teens are not the majority contributor to distracted driving-related accidents, it appears that the younger generation aged 16 to 24 years old are the ones who are using cell phones while driving more often.
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