Distracted driving: 9 die, 1,060 hurt each day, CDC says

(Pat Wellenbach/AP )
(Pat Wellenbach/AP )

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a new way to get people’s attention to what it calls the growing problem of distracted driving: it says that every day nine people die and 1,060 people are hurt in crashes where distraction is reported as a cause.

That’s a death every 2.6 hours, and 44 injuries an hour. And that toll of carnage is just from crashes that police investigators link to distracted driving. Nobody knows what percentage of the other crashes were caused by distraction.

In releasing a report Monday, the CDC cited the usual suspects: “Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.”

The CDC said that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared with 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared with 416,000 people injured in 2010.

Using 2011 data, the CDC compared distracted driving crash reports in the United States with those in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Britain. It determined that 69 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 said they had used their cellphones while behind the wheel in the past 30 days. The European average ranged from 21 percent in Britain to 59 percent in Portugal.

In the United States, 31 percent said they had read or sent text messages or e-mail messages while driving. The European range went from 15 percent who said they’d done that in Spain to 31 percent in Portugal.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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