We’ve all heard about the dangers of distracted driving. In fact, more and more states have made it illegal to text and drive. But, surprisingly, Americans are becoming less concerned about risky driving behaviors.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety compared drivers in 2009 and 2012. Their research found that the number of drivers who consider drinking and driving a serious threat dropped from 90 percent to 69 percent. Those who find running a red light to be totally unacceptable dropped from 77 percent to 70 percent. And those who think it’s seriously risky to text or email while driving dropped from 87 to 81 percent. (More drivers also admitted to texting while driving.)

Perhaps people are becoming desensitized to these risks after hearing so much about them. But that doesn’t mean the risks have diminished. In fact, between 2009 and 2012, the number of traffic fatalities rose by an estimated 5.3 percent.

Check out the distracted driving statistics below to see just how prevalent this issue still is.

4 shocking distracted driving statistics

1. People are killed by distracted drivers

According to the CDC, 3,331 people were killed in car accidents involving a distracted driver in 2011. Distracted driving includes anything that requires you to take your eyes off the road, with one of the more prevalent examples being sending or reading a text message. It goes without saying that no text is worth risking anyone’s life.

2. Texting exponentially increases accidents

It takes 4.6 seconds on average to send or read a text — the same amount of time it takes to come to a complete stop while driving 60 mph. So it’s not surprising to hear the results of research by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute. According to that study, truck drivers who send or receive text messages increase their risk of an accident by 23 times. A separate study by ergonomics researchers at the University of Utah found that drivers took an average of 30 percent longer to react when texting than under normal conditions.

3. Adults are worse about texting than kids

According to an AT&T online survey, 49 percent of adults admitted to texting while driving, compared to 43 percent of teenagers. In other words, nearly half (!) of the driving population engages in this risky behavior, and it looks like adults are setting a dangerous example for teens.

4. Texting is more dangerous than drunk driving

While we’re in no way condoning drinking and driving, this might shock you: you may actually be a less capable driver when distracted than when drunk. Car and Driver magazine performed a study comparing the 2 behaviors. It tested reaction times when drivers were texting compared to when they had a blood alcohol level of .08. The average reaction times were slower when texting compared to driving under the influence. If you’re opposed to driving drunk, you should be just as outraged by distracted driving.

If you’ve become desensitized to the risks, we hope these distracted driving statistics reinvigorate your senses because no text or email is important enough to put anyone’s life in danger.

Thanks to our friends at Money Crashers for their insight!

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Safe and smart


about Scott

Scott Wilson writes about money management topics, including budgeting, insurance, real estate, and retirement planning.