Driver distraction, including handheld device use such as texting and driving, is a contributing factor in many crashes, although many instances may go unreported. The number of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes was 2,841 or 7.8 percent of total fatalities in 2018.1
Phone use – particularly calling and texting – while driving is one of the most common distractions. Many states and local jurisdictions have passed laws that address these behaviors. GHSA's message to all drivers remains: don't use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law. A list of tips for managing driver distraction is available here.
GHSA recommends states ban hand-held cell phone use for all drivers. While texting and hand-held bans are both critical, texting bans by themselves can be difficult to enforce. In states with texting but not hand-held bans, a driver may claim they were dialing a phone number when stopped by a police officer. Enforcement demonstration projects in New York, Connecticut, Delaware and California have shown that hand-held cell phone bans can be enforced effectively and can reduce driver use of a cell phone.2, 3
1 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2019, October). 2018 fatal motor vehicle crashes: Overview. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 812 826). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2 Chaudhary, N. K., Connolly, J., Tison, J., Solomon, M., & Elliott, K. (2015, January). Evaluation of the NHTSA distracted driving high-visibility enforcement demonstration projects in California and Delaware. (Report No. DOT HS 812 108). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/812108_evaluationdistracteddrivingca-de.pdf
3 Chaudhary, N. K., Casanova-Powell, T. D., Cosgrove, L., Reagan, I., & Williams, A. (2012, August). Evaluation of NHTSA distracted driving demonstration projects in Connecticut and New York. (Report No. DOT HS 811 635). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/811635.pdf