The risks of distracted driving need context. It’s not enough to say that using your phone while driving increases the risk of a crash. We need to dive in and ask ourselves an important question: How does distracted driving compare to other crashes?
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are an estimated 450,000 distracted driving crashes each year in the US, resulting in around 5,000 deaths. Some organizations, like the National Safety Council, claim there may be as many as 1.5 million distracted driving crashes, but that drivers are too ashamed to self-report.
The NHTSA reports 1.5 million confirmed DUI and DWI crashes each year, accounting for 28% of all US car crashes. These crashes claim around 10,500 American lives each year. The silver lining with impaired crashes is that we have programs in place to identify drunk and impaired drivers through DUI checkpoints and speed traps. Typically, a swerving impaired driver is much easier to recognize than someone looking at their phone.
The Shocking Truth
When we compare these two types of crashes, we see a frightening trend. There are 3x more DWI crashes than distracted driving crashes, but there are only 2x as many fatalities. That means that distracted driving has a much fatality rate. Put another way:
Distracted Driving: 1 death per 90 crashes
Impaired Driving: 1 death per 143 crashes
The reason for this is two-fold. First, impaired drivers, especially drunk drivers, typically suffer fewer injuries in a car crash as their bodies are relaxed and they don’t tense up. A distracted driver may brace for impact, which often results in more severe injuries.
Second, distracted driving is often accompanied by higher speeds at the moment of impact. When someone is distracted, they don’t realize that a crash is imminent. That means they often hit the brakes a split-second before the moment of impact. The faster the car is going, the more damaging the crash will be.
Next time you’re behind the wheel and you consider checking your phone, sipping your drink, or reaching for your bag, remember that distracted driving is potentially a bigger risk than driving while impaired.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries at the hands of a distracted driver, we are here for you. If you'd like to discuss your case with an experienced Montgomery County personal injury attorney from Mayerson Injury Law, P.C. to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (610) 492-7155.