Distracted driving caused 3,154 deaths in the United States during 2013. Talking, texting or emailing on cell phones is a common cause, but reading, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers and personal grooming also can cause problems.
In 2011, distracted driving was responsible for 17 percent of crashes that caused injury, or about one crash out of every five. Distracted driving caused 424,000 people to experience injury in 2012. The CDC reports that, although inexperienced drivers, especially those under 20 years old, are at a higher risk of injury or death from distracted driving, it is dangerous for everyone.
There are three types of distracted driving. Cognitive distractions occur when drivers lose their focus on the road, such as when talking to another passenger distracts their attention. Visual distractions occur when drivers stop looking at the road. This can when a driver spills a drink, for example. Manual distractions occur when drivers take their hands off the wheel, such as when a driver reaches for something in the back seat. Some distractions fall into more than one category. Texting and emailing are particularly dangerous because they fall into all of the categories.
Although surveys have shown that most drivers recognize the danger of distracted driving, many of them still engage in it. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in 2013 that during the day, there are approximately 660,000 drivers distracted by electronic devices at any given moment.