Statistics on Texting and Driving in America

Learn about texting and driving stats like the most common age group to drive while distracted, fatalities, and the impact on insurance.

The dangers of texting while driving are undisputed. If you’re driving 55 miles per hour on the highway, taking your eyes off the road for enough time to read or send a text message is like driving with your eyes closed for the length of a football field.

Cell phone distractions can reduce your reaction time and cause serious car accidents where people die.

This article will explore statistics about electronic device use in car accidents, distracted driving statistics, and insurance rates in the United States. All information regarding traffic accidents was obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s publication “Distracted Driving 2018.”

Notable Statistics:

  • Eight percent of all fatal crashes in 2018 involved distracted driving behaviors.
  • In 2018, motor vehicle crashes involving the use of cell phones killed 385 people.
  • Just under 7% of drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2018 were using handheld devices.
  • Texting and driving citations raise car insurance premiums by an average of $356.

Texting and Driving Car Accidents

According to NHTSA, 8% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury accidents, and 14% of motor vehicle traffic accidents reported to the police in 2018 involved distracted driving. Of distracted driving crashes, 349 (13%) occurred when mobile phones were in use.

Texting While Driving Fatalities

Distracted driving car accidents killed 2,841 people in 2018, including 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, and 506 nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others). Distracted driving accidents caused just under 8% of the total amount of 2018 traffic accident deaths.

Additionally, approximately 5.2% of drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted, and 13.2% of fatal distracted driving accidents occurred when the driver was text messaging or otherwise using a hand-held cell phone. These accidents involving electronic devices resulted in the texting and driving deaths of 385 people in 2018.

Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes by Age

Eight percent of drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes in 2018 were distracted. Teen drivers, who are usually high school students, have the largest proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes, and young adults between the ages of 20 and 29 accounted for the largest percentage of distracted driving accidents.

The chart below details driver distraction and cell phone usage in drivers involved in fatal accidents by age group in 2018.

Age Group Total Drivers Distracted Drivers Drivers Using Cell Phones
15 to 19 3,070 (6%) 237 (7.7% of age group total) 40 (1.3% of age group total, 16.9% of distracted drivers in age group)
20 to 29 11,629 (23%) 680 (5.8% of age group total) 120 (1% of age group total, 17.6% of distracted drivers in age group)
30 to 39 9,264 (18%) 506 (5.5% of age group total) 86 (0.9% of age group total, 17% of distracted drivers in age group)
40 to 49 7,809 (15%) 389 (5% of age group total) 44 (0.6% of age group total, 11.3% of distracted drivers in age group)
50 to 59 7,883 (15%) 342 (4.3% of age group total) 36 (0.5% of age group total, 10.5% of distracted drivers in age group)
60 to 69 5,635 (11%) 251 (4.5% of age group total) 21 (0.4% of age group total, 8.3% of distracted drivers in age group)
70+ 4,919 (10%) 256 (5.2% of age group total) 6 (0.1% of age group total, 2.3% of distracted drivers in age group)
Total 51,490 2,688 (5.2% of all drivers) 354 (6.9% of all drivers, 13.2% of distracted drivers)

As you can see, young drivers were much more likely to be involved in an accident involving device use compared to older drivers.

Cell Phone Use in Car Accident Injuries

In 2018, an estimated 276,000 distracted driving accidents occurred, injuring 400,000 people. These account for 15% of both the total number of injury accidents and the total number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes. Of these injury victims, 33,000 (8%) were estimated to have been injured by texting or other cell-phone related crashes.

Underreporting of Distracted Driving

NHTSA acknowledges that there is a strong potential that distracted driving crashes are underreported. Potential reasons for underreporting of texting and driving or other distraction-affected accidents include:

  • The negative implications that are associated with distracted driving, especially when it causes a car crash. Self-reporting of negative behaviors is generally lower than the actual amount of that negative behavior that occurs, so texting drivers may lie to save face.
  • In reporting the causes of car accidents, law enforcement officers rely on the crash investigation report to determine if distracted driving was involved. The report forms for many states do not have fields to indicate distraction, and if the report does not conclude that distraction was involved, it won’t be reported as a distraction-related death.

Impact of Texting and Driving on Insurance

Insurance comparison website The Zebra compared insurance rates across the country and reported the impact that cell phone use can have on your car insurance premiums. You can learn more about the calculation methodology here.

The Zebra reported that in 2020, violating text and driving laws or using your mobile phone to receive phone calls while driving will raise the cost of your insurance by an average of $356 (23%). In some states, your rate can more than double, with premium increases up to 63% of your previous rate.

In 2019, the average annual cost of car insurance in America was about $1,500, whereas the average premium amount for drivers with a texting and driving citation was approximately $1,900. This $400 difference is almost entirely the result of insurance penalties for the citation.

Over the past several years, insurance penalties for distracted driving have increased by nearly 8,000%. In 2011, insurers in only 10 states raised premiums after a distracted driving ticket. As of late 2017, insurers in every state penalize people who receive distracted driving tickets with a rate hike. If you get a second ticket, this rate can double.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car crash caused by a distracted driver sending text messages, you can contact a personal injury attorney near you to schedule a free initial consultation. You may be entitled to receive compensation for the accident.

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Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>