Distracted driving estimated at 16% of deaths

Updated Sep 21, 2010

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Sept. 20 announced distracted driving-related crashes claimed 5,474 lives and led to 448,000 traffic injuries across the United States in 2009.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009 – the same percentage as in 2008.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood cautions that researchers believe the epidemic of distracted driving is likely far greater than currently known. Police reports in many states still do not document routinely whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes, making it more difficult to know the full extent of the problem.

The NHTSA study found that the proportion of fatalities associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent to 16 percent between 2005 and 2009. This news comes as overall traffic fatalities fell in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1950.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, LaHood will convene a second National Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. Leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers and the family members of victims of distraction-related crashes will address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts.