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Some Facts About the Dangers of Distracted Driving

April was National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department helped spread the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving with three special distracted-driving patrols on April 8, 17 and 22. Additionally, during the month of April the Sheriff’s Department had a zero tolerance policy toward distracted drivers, who face a minimum fine of $161 for violating California’s distracted driving laws.

Now that April is over, though, it’s still important to remain aware of the dangers of distracted driving – yes, even without the help of special patrols targeting distracted drivers. Here are some sobering facts about driving while distracted:

  • In 2012 there were 3,328 fatalities resulting from distraction-affected motor vehicle crashes in the United States and an estimated 421,000 people injured as a result of accidents involving a distracted driver.
  • A study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that 26 percent of teenage drivers respond to texts while they are driving.
  • According to the NHTSA, drivers under the age of 20 had the largest proportion of distracted drivers, and in 2011, of drivers in this age group who were involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents, 21 percent were distracted at the time of the accident.
  • The NHTSA has also found that, in any given daylight moment, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. Out of the 212 million drivers in 2011 in the U.S., 102 million drivers were answering cell phone calls while driving and 50 million were also placing calls while driving.
  • Distracted driving is more prevalent in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that about a third of drivers in the U.S. reported texting or emailing while driving, compared to 15 percent of drivers in Spain.

The dangers of distracted driving are well-documented. Responding to a call or a text while driving may seem like a small thing, but the consequences can be tragic.