Crash data from 2010 released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 3,092 people were killed and 416,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving.
NHTSA said 9 percent of the total 30,196 fatal crashes in the United States were a result of distraction, according to data contained in the administrations Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Additionally, 18 percent of injury crashes were reported as the result of distraction.
Four hundred and eight, or 13 percent, of distraction-affected fatalities occurred in crashes in which at least one of the drivers was using a cell phone. Meanwhile, NHTSA said 24,000 people, or 6 percent, were injured in crashes that involved cell-phone use.
Seven percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes (a total of 2,912) were recorded as distracted. Of these, the largest proportion of distracted drivers were under 20 years old at 11 percent, and 19 percent of those were distracted specifically by cell-phone use. The largest group of drivers distracted by cell phones were 20 to 29 years old at 34 percent, and these drivers represented 16 percent of all distracted drivers.
As drivers age, FARS shows, the percentage of distracted drivers generally falls by about half for every 20 years the driver ages. Drivers 30 to 39 years were distracted 14 percent of the time, and 18 percent were distracted by cell phones. Drivers 40 to 49 represented 16 percent of all distracted drivers and were distracted by cell phones 16 percent of the time. Seven percent of distracted drivers fell within the 50 to 59 age range and were distracted by cell phones 7 percent of the time.
Eight percent of distracted drivers were age 60 to 69, and cell phone use by this group fell to 4 percent. Drivers over age 70 represented the smallest number of those distracted and those distracted by a cell phone (2 percent, each).
By vehicle, drivers of passenger cars (1,165) and light trucks (1,256) were most often behind the wheel in distraction-affected crashes. Only 19 bus drivers, meanwhile, were involved fatal crashes, and only two bus drivers were found to be using cell phones at the time of the crash. This category was not broken down by type of bus.
NHTSA added that a change in how distracted-crash data is coded means 2010 data cannot be compared to previous years. Beginning in 2010, both FARS and the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) began identifying crashes as "Yes-Distracted," "No-Not Distracted" or "Unknown if distracted." If a driver is identified as distracted, further coding is performed to distinguish the specific distracting activity at the time of the crash.