Distracted Driving

Distracted Driver

GHSA Policy

Click here to view GHSA's Policies and Priorities on Distracted Driving.

Driver distraction, including handheld device use such as texting and driving, is a contributing factor in many crashes. In 2017, distracted driving was reported in crashes that killed 3,166 people (8.5% of all fatalities),1 although many instances may go unreported.

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 behaviorsGHSA'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. (2017, October). 2016 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview (Traffic Safety Facts Crash•Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 456). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812456

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

Facts & Figures

42% of Drivers Admit to Texting


20 states ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. 39 states ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states prohibit it for school bus drivers. Currently, 48 states ban text messaging for all drivers.

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