Am J Public Wellness.
2010 November; 100(xi): 2213–2219.
Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the U.s., 1999 to 2008
Nosotros examined trends in distracted driving fatalities and their relation to jail cell telephone use and texting volume.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) records data on all road fatalities that occurred on public roads in the United States from 1999 to 2008. We studied trends in distracted driving fatalities, driver and crash characteristics, and trends in jail cell phone apply and texting volume. We used multivariate regression analysis to approximate the relation between state-level distracted driving fatalities and texting volumes.
Subsequently failing from 1999 to 2005, fatalities from distracted driving increased 28% after 2005, rising from 4572 fatalities to 5870 in 2008. Crashes increasingly involved male drivers driving alone in collisions with roadside obstructions in urban areas. By use of multivariate analyses, nosotros predicted that increasing texting volumes resulted in more than 16 000 boosted road fatalities from 2001 to 2007.
Distracted driving is a growing public rubber hazard. Specifically, the dramatic rise in texting book since 2005 appeared to be contributing to an alarming rise in distracted driving fatalities. Legislation enacting texting bans should be paired with effective enforcement to deter drivers from using jail cell phones while driving.
Business organisation is growing almost the dangers of distracted driving, as underscored during a 2010 national summit that brought together safe experts, industry leaders, and several United states senators to address the hazards of driving while distracted and to examine possible regulatory solutions. This business is further underscored by the growing number of communities that are contemplating or implementing bans on prison cell phone utilize while driving. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 11 major motorcar companies, and the American Motorcar Association joined this debate by announcing back up for bans on the use of handheld devices while driving.ane,two
Given the increasing visibility of the result of distracted driving in the media and among policymakers, a need exists for data to inform public policy on this important public health issue. In 2008, approximately 1 in 6 fatal vehicle collisions resulted from a driver being distracted while driving.iii
The causes of distraction accept recently been debated, and several studies implicated the use of cell phones or sending text messages while driving. For example, studies using a naturalistic methodology suggested that relative to nondistracted drivers, those drivers who text are 23 times as likely to crash.iv
Laboratory and naturalistic studies showed that talking on a jail cell phone raises the risk of collision past more than 30%.4
Although compelling naturalistic and laboratory data suggest that handheld devices are a driving risk, no population-based studies of distracted driving, particularly on the magnitude of traffic deaths associated with handheld devices, accept been carried out.5–thirteen
We examined trends in vehicle fatalities resulting from distractions by using a national database on all vehicular fatalities occurring on public roads in the Usa. Tendency data on cell telephone subscriber and monthly texting volumes complemented the fatality data to provide an estimate of the relation between distracted driving fatalities and the use of handheld devices. Nosotros examined whether increasing cell phone use and texting volume may explain recent trends in distracted driving fatalities.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database contains detailed demographic and crash information on every accident that occurs on a public road in the U.s.a. that results in at to the lowest degree 1 fatality. To be recorded in FARS, a fatality must occur within thirty days of the corresponding crash. Information is nerveless from a diversity of sources, including police reports, state registration files, state licensing files, vital statistics, expiry certificates, infirmary medical records, and emergency medical or coroner reports. We examined the ten-twelvemonth catamenia from 1999 to 2008.
For each accident, FARS provides information on driver-related factors. A fatality was defined as being caused by lark if a driver-related accident factor was recorded as being emotional, inattentive, or devil-may-care, or using a cellular phone, computer, or fax machine, or on-board navigation or heads-upwardly brandish organization. Inattentive or devil-may-care behavior included talking, eating, reading, using jail cell phones, text messaging, and using global positioning systems or other devices. This definition of distracted driving is used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.3
A total of 51 857 fatalities caused by driver lark occurred from 1999 to 2008, according to FARS information.
Prison cell phone subscriber data were bachelor from the United states of america Federal Communications Committee’s Wireline Competition Bureau.fourteen
Subscriber data included the total number of mobile wireless phone subscribers for each state in the United States. All local telephone carriers are required to report subscriber information to the Federal Communications Committee. The data were collected twice a twelvemonth in June and December from 2001 to 2007. Nosotros collected information on text messaging volume from Commercial Mobile Radio Services Contest Reports, which are annual reports submitted to Congress by the Federal Communications Committee, and from the semiannual wireless manufacture survey conducted by CTIA, the international association for the wireless telecommunication industry (formerly the Cellular Phone Industries Association).15
The boilerplate number of monthly SMS (curt message service) or text letters sent in a twelvemonth in the The states was available from 2002 to 2007. About of the growth in messaging took identify during this period. Unfortunately, state-level texting volume data were unavailable. We estimated state texting book by multiplying each land’due south numbers of subscribers every six months past the national average of text messages per subscriber. We used these semiannual estimates on country texting book in multivariate analyses for the menstruation from 2002 to 2007.
We used state-level information on monthly average inches of precipitation and degrees of temperature for the continental United states of america in the analyses considering climate is an of import gene in the likelihood of driving and having a collision. These data are available from the National Climactic Data Eye, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Nosotros presented the average number of annual fatalities from distracted driving, and driver and crash characteristics, for each year. We also examined trends in fatalities, prison cell phone subscribers, and text messaging graphically. Nosotros examined the relation between country-level semiannual text messaging volumes and the number of fatalities by using linear multivariate regression analyses adjusted for boilerplate atmospheric precipitation in inches, temperature in degrees, percentage of country vehicle miles traveled on urban roadways, total state vehicle miles traveled, state unemployment charge per unit, region, and twelvemonth. Climate data were available only for the continental United States, and texting information were available from 2002 to 2007. We used Stata 10.i to perform all analyses (StataCorp, College Station, TX).
The descriptive statistics of distracted fatalities and driver characteristics by twelvemonth are presented in
Table 1. Distracted deaths every bit a share of all route fatalities increased from 10.9% to 15.8% from 1999 to 2008, and much of the increase occurred afterward 2005. Fatalities related to distracted driving increased 28.4% from 2005 to 2008, rising to 5870 in 2008. Drivers in distracted fatal crashes were more probable to be male, White, non-Hispanic, and younger, merely were less probable to have previous driving violations. Yet, significant changes in demographic characteristics occurred recently. The per centum of distracted drivers who were male gradually increased from 70.3% to 74.0% from 1999 to 2008. Later declining nearly 10% from 1999 to 2006, the per centum of distracted drivers who were non-Hispanic Whites increased from 72.nine% in 2006 to 76.iv% in 2008. The percentage of distracted drivers aged 29 years or younger declined from 1999 to a low of 37.7% in 2003. Later 2003, this percentage increased, reaching 39% of distracted drivers in 2008. By comparing, drivers involved in nondistracted fatal crashes were less likely to be younger than xxx years (32.viii% vs 39.0% for distracted drivers), with an average age in 2008 of 41.three years versus 39.4 years for distracted drivers. The proportion of distracted drivers with a previous moving violation declined from 1999 to 2005 but this proportion increased rapidly from 2006 to 2008, ascent to 44.vii% in 2008 from 39.ix% in 2006. Although the percentage of total road fatalities from drinking while driving remained nearly constant at nearly 30% from 1999 to 2008, the proportion of distracted drivers who were also drinking alcohol while driving really increased from 26% to 30.8% in 2008.
Tabular array 1
|Distracted driving fatalities, no.||4563||4606||4611||5008||5744||4978||4572||5917||5988||5870|
|Proportion of all fatalities, %||10.9||eleven.0||10.9||11.vi||13.iv||xi.6||10.5||13.ix||14.half dozen||xv.viii|
|Driver’south gender, %|
|Driver’s race/ethnicity, %|
|Commuter’s age, y, mean||forty.0||39.5||39.3||38.seven||39.six||39.eight||39.iii||38.9||39.1||39.4|
|Driver’southward age, %|
|≥ 50 y||27.7||27.0||26.1||25.one||26.v||27.8||27.8||26.3||27.0||27.8|
|Driver’due south previous violation, %|
|Driving alone, %|
|Drinking alcohol while driving,a
|Type of collision, %|
|Location of crash, %|
|Rural area||67.3||66.eight||66.0||65.half dozen||62.2||65.6||65.9||61.eight||59.9||60.2|
|Urban surface area||32.7||33.two||34.0||34.four||37.8||34.4||34.1||38.2||40.1||39.8|
Other crash characteristics examined in
included whether there were any passengers with the distracted commuter, the type of collision, and the urban or rural location of the crash. The percent of individuals driving solitary while distracted increased from 60.four% to 65.five% from 1999 to 2008. Crashes not involving other moving vehicles increased virtually sixteen% since 2003, from 51.1% of crashes to 59.1% in 2008. Although the percentage of rear-stop collisions did not vary significantly after 1999, the pct of head-on collisions declined from 12.ane% of all crashes to 9.two% from 1999 to 2008, and other crash types declined from 23.1% of all crashes to 19.9%. Finally, more distracted crashes occurred in urban areas. The percentage of crashes in urban areas increased by more than 20%, rising from 32.7% of all crashes in 1999 to about forty% in 2008. Fatalities not involving distracted driving were more likely to occur on urban roads than were distracted driving deaths (45.1% in 2008 vs 39.8% in 1999) and were less probable to involve rear-stop collisions (5.2% vs 11.viii%).
Trends in the share of traffic fatalities that resulted from distracted driving and the full number of cell phone subscribers per capita for each yr are presented in
Figure 1. Cell phone subscriber rates increased adequately steadily, growing an average of 12.6% annually. In 1999, most 1 in iii persons on boilerplate had a cell phone subscription compared with 91% of all persons past 2008. This linear trend in cell phone subscriptions from 1999 to 2008 stood in stark contrast with the uneven trend in distracted driving deaths from 1999 to 2005. Reasons for the sharp declines in fatalities in 2004 and 2005 are unclear. Even so, information technology seems unlikely that the steady growth in jail cell phone subscribership was responsible for the volatility in fatalities during this period.
Shares of distracted driver fatalities with average number of monthly text letters sent in the The states each year are shown in
Figure 2. In 2002, an average of 1 million text messages were sent monthly, or vii.2 text messages per k subscribers. Past 2008, the monthly volume had increased to about 110 million messages, for an average of 397 monthly text messages per 1000 subscribers. The largest percentage of increases in texting volumes occurred subsequently 2006, with texting volume per subscriber ascent by 136% from 2006 to 2007 and past 117% from 2007 to 2008. By contrast, cell phone subscriptions per capita increased 7.8% from 2006 to 2007 and 4.5% from 2007 to 2008.
We used multivariate regression to judge the number of distracted driving fatalities that would have occurred in the U.s.a. during the flow 2002-2007 if text message volumes had been zilch. Volume data were not available for 2008 or before 2002. Information were available semiannually for each state in the United States from 2002 to 2007. Nosotros adjusted the multivariate regression estimates for climate (mean inches of precipitation and degrees of temperature), state unemployment rate, percentage of urban miles versus rural vehicle miles traveled, total vehicle miles traveled, region, and year. The actual number of fatalities and the number of fatalities from distracted driving predicted by use of multivariate regression estimates are presented in
Figure three. The regression estimates suggested that distracted driving fatalities would increase 75.6% in an boilerplate country for every 1 one thousand thousand additional text messages sent per calendar month. In fact, estimated monthly texting volumes increased from nineteen 500 texts for the average land in 2002 to more than 2 million monthly texts per land in 2008. The data presented in
suggested that if texting volumes were zilch after 2001, predicted fatalities from distracted driving would have declined from 4611 to 1925 per twelvemonth from 2001 to 2007. This compares to the actual increase from 4611 fatalities in 2001 to 5988 in 2007 in the United States, a 30% increase. Overall, the regression analysis predicted that the increase in texting volumes later on 2001 resulted in 16 141 boosted distracted driving fatalities for the years 2002-2007. A multivariate regression of distracted driving deaths and jail cell phone subscribers showed that 1 meg additional cell phone subscribers would issue in 19.0% more than fatalities for the average state. This prediction implied a smaller, though meaning, impact upon fatalities compared with increases in monthly texting volumes.
Predicted number of distracted driving fatalities without text messaging compared with the actual number of fatalities: Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2001–2007.
Note. Estimates were based on multivariate regression analysis adjusting for boilerplate inches of precipitation, boilerplate temperature, state unemployment rate, percentage of urban vs rural vehicle-miles traveled, total vehicle-miles traveled, region, and year.
In this study, we were the kickoff to examine and empirically test the relations between national trends in route fatalities, jail cell telephone subscriber rates, and estimated text message volumes. Later trending downward from 1999 to 2005, distracted driving fatalities rapidly increased in numbers and as a share of all road fatalities after 2005. The characteristics of distracted drivers too changed recently, with drivers becoming increasingly likely to be male with previous driving violations and to be driving lonely. Nonvehicular crashes have too become more typical since 1999. Urban areas saw an increasing share of distracted driving fatalities. The increase in distracted driving fatalities from 2005 to 2008 may take been a outcome of the rapid increases in text messaging volumes during this period. Multivariate regression analysis suggested that upwards trends in text messaging resulted in thousands of additional fatalities from distracted driving since 2001.
Electric current enquiry on the risks of cell phone apply while driving has not examined reported road fatalities occurring from lark. Studies largely used driving simulators, test tracks, and naturalist methodologies to show how driving is affected by dissimilar distractions such as talking on jail cell phones or texting.iii–12,sixteen
While a driver is talking on a cell phone, the driver’southward eyes may remain fixed on the route, but sending and reading text letters requires a driver to take his or her eyes away from the road. Thus, texting while driving is much more chancy than talking on a jail cell telephone while driving. In another case, ane study using driving simulators and iPod (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA) interactions constitute that drivers manipulating an iPod glanced away from the route more than twice equally long as when they were not using an iPod.17
Prison cell phone subscriber rates have increased significantly since the 1990s, and that rate of increment was steady throughout much of the 2000s. However, the rapid increase in distracted driving deaths in contempo years was more consequent with national trends in monthly texting volumes than with trends in cell phone subscriptions. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 6% of The states drivers are observed using a jail cell phone, a percentage unchanged since 2005.xviii
The increment in traffic fatalities since 2005 appears to exist related to a shift in how handheld devices are used; such devices require more consequent interaction. In addition to lower attending given to the task of driving—the problem identified with talking on a cell phone—the apply of other handheld devices diverts a driver’s eyes away from the road. Although prison cell phones accept saturated the market with subscriptions per capita reaching xc%, the market is growing for smart phones and other handheld devices, given the increasing popularity of texting, social networking sites, and applications. Smart phones such as the iPhone (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA) provide Internet browsing and access to a variety of applications such as games and navigation programs. Many of these applications involve the same inherent hazard as text messaging while driving, because the applications divert a commuter’s eyes away from the road.17
Since 2003, the percentage of distracted drivers anile 29 years or younger involved in fatal crashes has increased slightly, and nearly 2 out of 5 drivers in distracted driving fatal accidents were younger drivers in 2008. Results from national surveys commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show that 14% of drivers reported text messaging use while driving in the previous 30 days. Near half of these drivers were younger than 25 years of historic period and they were more likely to be male.xix
Both are consistent with our results showing that distracted drivers are younger on average than drivers involved in other types of fatal crashes, and that distracted drivers are increasingly likely to exist male.
We expected that a driver would be less likely to text message if there were other passengers in the vehicle, and our results suggested that the number of distracted driving fatalities involving individuals driving solitary has increased steadily since the early 2000s. Drivers may be more than likely to text when alone and bored, just are perhaps more probable to take a passenger utilize their cell phone to text if needed. In fact, research suggests that people generally drive more safely in the presence of passengers, although adolescent drivers may increase their risky behaviors in the presence of other boyish passengers.20–29
Interestingly, the number of fatal crashes from lark involving collisions with parked cars, copse, lamp posts, and other nonvehicular collisions has increased rapidly since the mid-2000s. Such crashes also increased in frequency on urban roadways, where the risks of having an accident while using a cell telephone are much greater.
The proportion of distracted drivers who were also drinking alcohol at the time of a fatal accident increased past 26% since 2005. Even so, the percentage of full road fatalities involving alcohol-dumb drivers remained most constant since 1999. This suggests that the availability of handheld electronic devices is compounding the hazards of drinking while driving, because alcohol-dumb drivers may exist less inhibited from trying to use handheld devices while driving. In addition, impairment of physical motor skills when intoxicated means that manipulation of cell phones or texting will be more difficult, volition take longer to perform, and thus will outcome in longer periods of lark for intoxicated drivers compared with nonintoxicated drivers.
The results of the multivariate assay suggested that if text messaging volumes were nonexistent after 2001, predicted fatalities from distracted driving in 2007 would take decreased by near two thirds from the bodily total. Differences between predicted fatalities and bodily fatalities besides grew over time. Our findings showed road accidents caused past distracted driving to be a serious public health problem that is on the rise. The results from our study tin be used to shape public policy on the utilize of handheld devices while driving. Effective policy interventions to reduce cell telephone use and text messaging while driving may result in several grand fewer vehicle fatalities each twelvemonth.
Much discussion and media attention on the causes of distracted driving center on the use of jail cell phones and texting.30
The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, which represents 11 of the largest international auto companies, has called for a ban on handheld jail cell phone utilize while driving. Some car models use Bluetooth wireless technology, which allows hands-free cell phone apply, but simply 1 out of three Usa cars sold in 2009 had this feature.31
Bluetooth technology is besides limited to voice communication. New systems are currently existence developed that volition use Bluetooth and global positioning system technologies to allow parents to monitor their children while driving, and to prevent cell phone use, including texting, by their children while driving. Such technologies come at a fourth dimension when several states and cities have passed bans or restrictions on the employ of cell phones or texting while driving. For example, a commuter in Utah who causes a fatal crash because of texting may at present be charged with auto homicide. A total prohibition of handheld prison cell phone use while driving exists in 8 states plus Washington, DC.32
Total distracted driving fatalities decreased slightly from 2007 to 2008, perhaps because of more widespread and publicized prohibitions on prison cell phone use, but it is too early to conclude whether this is the start of a long-term trend.
But 30 states currently have text messaging bans, yet, and the effectiveness of using traffic citations to demotivate texting among drivers is unclear. For example, although New York was the first land to ban handheld jail cell phone utilise past drivers, 1 report showed that cell phone use at that place declined only temporarily. The authors attributed their findings to a lack of pregnant publicity and less than vigorous enforcement of the ban.33
Unlike violations such every bit speeding or running a ruby light, for which there are numerous technological aids in traffic enforcement, catching drivers in the act of texting is difficult without shut ascertainment by police, or unless the person is observed to exist driving erratically. Unlike a drunk commuter, a texting driver may be observed to drive normally for long periods of time earlier exhibiting sudden, erratic driving because of texting. Drunk drivers may besides be caught at police force checkpoints, and intoxication can be objectively measured with breathalyzers, for example. Past contrast with established methods of detecting drunk drivers, at that place are no proven protocols for the detection of texting drivers; this cistron creates difficulties for law enforcement, and may potentially result in significant underreporting of distracted driving. Utah has attached severe criminal penalties for causing a fatal accident while texting and, in 1 instance, police investigators there used cell phone records to demonstrate that a driver was texting at the time of a fatal crash.34
Criminal charges for texting while driving and routine examination of prison cell phone records in accident investigations may act equally constructive deterrents to drivers with cell phones.
Our results had several limitations. Commencement, although nosotros had national data on average monthly texting volumes, our country-level texting volumes were estimates based on boilerplate national texting volumes per cell phone subscriber and state-level cell phone subscribership. We do non believe that the number of texts sent per jail cell phone subscriber varied systematically by land, and thus, our estimates of state-level texting volumes were probable to be adequately accurate. Furthermore, accurate data on state texting volumes would likely strengthen our multivariate findings past increasing the statistical significance of texting book on fatalities if our measure of state texting volume had measurement fault. A 2nd limitation was that the FARS database does non specify whether a distracted driving fatality resulted from texting while driving or from other types of lark. However, our findings suggest that increases in distracted driving fatalities are consequent with the rapid increment in texting volumes occurring in the United States in recent years. A 3rd limitation was the absence of injuries in our analysis. Factors that increase the number of fatalities in car crashes are also likely to increase crash injuries by a proportional degree. Therefore, we believe our findings have strong implications for injury rates arising from distracted driving. A survey of police-reported road accidents suggested that injuries from distraction have decreased from 26% of all crash injuries in 2004 to 22% in 2008.xiii
This decrease suggests, perhaps, that distracted driving crashes take become more likely to exist fatal in recent years. Finally, nosotros did non accept data on texting volumes before 2002. However, the years following 2002 captured nigh of the growth in texting volumes that occurred in the United States, and thus, we do non believe this was a meaning limitation.
Fatal crashes resulting from driver distraction accept increased in recent years. Much attention from the media and policymakers has focused on the use of cell phones and texting while driving as serious public threats. Several states have already banned texting or cell telephone use by drivers, and momentum for federal legislation seems to be increasing. We used information on all fatal vehicle accidents occurring on public roads in the United States to document the trends in fatalities and characteristics of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. Our results suggested that recent and rapid increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of boosted route fatalities yearly in the United States. Legislation enacting texting bans should be paired with effective enforcement to deter drivers from the use of handheld devices while driving. Requiring standard new-machine options such as Bluetooth or other automobile technologies that inhibit handheld cell phone use should also be considered.
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