Driver distraction, including handheld device use such as texting and driving, is a contributing factor in many crashes, although many instances go unreported. The number of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes was 2,841, or 7.8% of total fatalities in 2018.1
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 behaviors. GHSA'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 that states ban handheld cellphone use for all drivers. Although texting and handheld bans are both critical, texting bans alone can be difficult to enforce. In states with texting bans but no handheld bans, drivers 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 handheld cellphone bans can be enforced effectively and can reduce driver use of a cellphone.2, 3
1 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2019, October). 2018 fatal motor vehicle crashes: Overview. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 812 826). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2 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