Distracted drivers are a serious safety problem in the US

Distracted drivers - US Flag

Thousands of people die due to collisions caused by motorists who weren’t paying attention.

Distracted drivers are all over American roads, and according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thousands of people are dying because motorists are paying attention to phones, smartwatches, radios, food, makeup application and other factors aside from the road in front of them.

The latest data shows that about 3,500 people died in the US in 2021 because of motorist distraction.

Last October, Mercury Insurance held a survey to investigate the habits of US distracted drivers, with 1,000 respondents, each of whom were motorists. The data showed that motorists often participate in a number of different activities that can take their attention away from the road.

The insurer was hopeful that by releasing this data, it would help to place the spotlight on the degree of the issue, so that many people will start to take their attention more seriously while behind the wheel.

Distracted drivers - Driver using navigation system

Distracted drivers smartphone use

According to the survey results, 26 percent of motorists have either been in a collision or have come close to being in a crash because of texting while behind the wheel.  Moreover, another 66 percent of motorists said that they used their handsets while they were on the road. Additionally, 67 percent of motorists said that they didn’t wait until reaching their destinations or pulling off the road before checking on a phone notification. Among the respondents, 48 percent said that they have been distracted by the navigation system they were using to find their way to a destination.

People feel the issue is getting worse

It isn’t just the statistics from various insurers and road safety organizations that have been saying that the number of distracted drivers is getting worse. According to the survey results, 86 percent of respondents said that they felt people weren’t paying as much attention while driving as they did five years ago.

Interestingly, 58 percent of the survey participants said that they weren’t as likely to use their phones while behind the wheel if they had passengers in the vehicle with them.

The biggest contributor to distracted driving

It’s unlikely that many people would be surprised to discover that among the many distractions that could cause a motorist to shift their attention away from the road, it is smartphones that are some of the top contributors.

A worrying 66 percent of motorists said that they used their devices while on the road. Reasons included checking texts or social media or changing their music settings. One quarter of distracted drivers said they used their phones to look through their playlists while behind the wheel.

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