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The Dangers and Cost of Distracted Driving in Your State

Celeste Tholen


Celeste Tholen

Managing Editor

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October 07, 2021 Share Article

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What are the opportunities you will die in a auto accident? Or get pulled over for using your phone while driving?

The answer depends on which state you’re in. Each day in the US, over 1,000 people are injured and nine people are killed because of distracted motorists. 1 While cellphones are not involved in all distracted driving, they are a serious problem that increases the risk of a crash.

Lawmakers in each state are addressing this issue in different ways. For example, even though no state forbids all cellphone use for all motorists, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have banned all drivers from handheld phone use. Texting and driving is banned for all drivers in DC and all but three countries. 2

In honor of National Safety Month, we compiled this report to increase awareness of the dangers of driving confused and foster drivers to take the pledge to be a safe driver.

Total accidents is generated by confused driving, particularly from cellphone use, are thought to be much higher than the numbers below show.

picture of person texting while driving

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

While cellphones aren’t the only form of distracted driving, these devices are the most common distraction. 3 From texting and talking to navigation and music, use your cellphone while driving your automobile is seriously dangerous.

It’s specially worrisome considering that it often employs all three different forms of distraction–it visually takes your eyes off the road, manually takes your hands off the wheel, and cognitively necessitates thinking about something other than driving.

These worrisome facts about confused driving come from the latest data( 2016) released by the NHTSA 😛 TAGEND

6% of all motorists in fatal crashes were driving distracted. 37,461 people died in car accidents, an average of 102 people a period. That’s a 13% increase from 2014. 9% of fatal accidents were reported to involve distracted driving. That’s an increase of 17% since 2014. There were 562 pedestrians and bicyclists killed in confused vehicle crashes. That’s an alarming 9% increase from 2015. Drivers under the age of twenty are the largest group reported as confused at the time of fatal accidents.

These additional realities highlight the risks of confused driving even more 😛 TAGEND

It’s estimated that there are about 481,000 drivers on their telephones while driving every day. 4 42% of motorists admit to reading a text or email while driving. 5 As of 2010, confused driving was estimated to cause virtually $40 billion in damages per year. 6 About 70% of motorists report use a cellphone while driving, despite knowing they have an increased risk of making a crash. 7 1 in 4 vehicle crashes are estimated to involve cellphone use. 8 Texting while driving can respond to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. 9

Deadliest Country for Driver

These are the top ten countries with the most deaths from car accidents in 2016. Included are the state’s laws and fines on cellphone use while driving 😛 TAGEND RankStateDeaths/100,000 populationStatewide handheld banTexting banYear of enactmentStatewide minimum ban1Mississippi 23.1 NoYes2 015$ 1002 Alabama2 1.3 NoYes2 012$ 253 South Carolina2 0.5 NoYes2 014$ 254 New Mexico1 9.3 No *** Yes2 014$ 255 Wyoming1 9.1 NoYes2 010$ 756 Kentucky1 8.8 NoYes2 010$ 25* 7Montana18. 2NoNo *** n/ an/ a8Arkansas18. 2No ** Yes2 009$ 2509 Oklahoma1 7.4 No ** Yes2 015$ 25010 Louisiana1 6.2 NoYes2 008$ 500* Plus points on driver’s license ** Not all drivers, merely novice drivers or bus drivers *** Some metropolis or counties have handheld outlaws, but not statewide

Only 15 states and DC ban all motorists from use handheld cellphones while driving. Hands-free cellphone use is still allowed in most cases, which is still deemed to be a distraction.

Young Drivers

Thirty-eight states and DC have recognized the increased crash risk for young drivers and have banned all cellphone use by novice motorists, but merely twenty states and DC prohibit it for school bus motorists responsible for the safety of dozens of young children. 10

map of the most and least distracted drivers by age group

Enforcement of Distracted Driving Laws

Some local governments have taken affairs into their own hands–when statewide forbids haven’t been passed, some metropolis and counties have forbidden cellphone use while driving.

But enforcement of confused driving laws varies widely from government to state–discouraging texting and driving in particular can be extremely challenging without a statute banning handheld cellphone use.

Most Tickets

These are the top ten nations with the best enforcement of cellphone forbiddings. This information is based on tickets issued per licensed driver 😛 TAGEND RankStateCitations/100,000 licensed driversMinimum fineHandheld banYear of enactmentTexting banYear enacted1Delaware *** 13,061$ 100* Yes2 011 Yes2 0112 New York *** 11,996$ 243* Yes2 001 Yes2 0113 D.C. 10,952$ 100 Yes2 004 Yes2 0044 New Jersey *** 7,215$ 400 Yes2 008 Yes2 0085 Hawaii4, 848$ 250 Yes2 013 Yes2 0136 Connecticut *** 3,659$ 100 Yes2 005 Yes2 0057 California *** 3,255$ 161 Yes2 008 Yes2 0098 Illinois9 58$ 75 Yes2 014 Yes2 0109 Nevada6 65$ 50 ** Yes2 012 Yes2 01210 West Virginia4 88$ 100 Yes2 013 Yes2 013* Plus levels on driver’s license ** Plus court penalties *** Received first federal grants for enforcing confused driving laws in 2011 and 2012. * Based on total number of cites reported statewide per 100,000 licensed motorists from the time that state’s cellphone law went into effect through 2016. ** There was no statewide data reported for confused driving cites issued in Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Wyoming. Arizona and Montana do not have current texting prohibits in place for all motorists.

Highest Fines infographic of the states with the highest fines vs. the lowest fines


Distracted Driving Deaths

Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina are the top three nations where you’re most likely to die in a car crash, and none of them have a statewide law banning handheld cellphone use. Washington DC, New York, and New Jersey are among the top five places where you’re least likely to die in a accident, and all have laws banning handheld cellphone while driving. While public transit may be a factor, these places also have some of the strictest and longest stand confused driving statutes in its own country.

Penalties for Distracted Motorist

New York, Virginia, and Nebraska will add three or more points to your license for texting and driving, which means your insurance rates could spike if you get a ticket. Alaska and Utah are the only nations with texting prohibits that include prison time as a penalty for the first offense. They likewise have the highest penalties at $10,000 and $750, respectively. All but four countries with texting and driving forbids have primary enforcement, which means you can get drew over for texting and driving. Ohio, Florida, Nebraska, and South Dakota are the only states with secondary enforcement. All drivers are able to obtain drew over for talking on their cellphone in these states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Enforcement of Distracted Driving Laws

New York, Connecticut, Delaware and California should be congratulated for their enforcement of confused driving laws. They are among the top ten safest nations, were the first states to qualify for federal funding to crack down on drivers employing cellphones, and are among the top ten nations with the most tickets issued since their forbids were put in place. Delaware is the strictest enforcer of distracted driving, with the most cites issued per licensed motorists in their country. Since Delaware’s ban went into effect in 2011, the government reported more tickets than DC and New York, who have had handheld cellphone prohibits in place since 2004 and 2001, respectively. Arizona, Montana, and Missouri are the only countries left without a texting and driving outlaw for all drivers. Arizona and Missouri only have bans for young, inexperienced drivers. Three of the top ten deadliest states–Louisiana, Wyoming, and Mississippi–have the worst enforcement of distracted driving statutes, with less than 100 tickets issued collectively over the three to ten years since their forbiddings were passed. Five of the top ten deadliest governments for automobile accidents have preemption laws that proscribe local jurisdictions from enacting their own distracted driving bannings: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

The Solution: It Starts with You

Be part of the solution and pledge to #justdrive.

While government and law enforcement play an important role in making and enforcing statutes to keep us safe, varying our behavior as individuals is a key factor in creating lasting alter that can save lives.

What motivates you? Fear? Protecting loved ones? Losing money? Jail time?

Regardless of the current laws in your nation, don’t use electronic machines while you drive.

Use this report as motivation to help kick your cellphone addiction and put down your phone while you drive.

Commit to yourself that you will not drive distracted Before you start your car, turn off your phone Set it out of reach so you won’t get seduced to use it Lead by example Pay attention Advocate for policies against confused driving at your work Advocate for strict confused driving laws in your metropoli and country Encourage others to #justdrive

Distracted Driving FAQs

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How many accidents is a result of confused motorists?

16% of total accidents are distraction-affected, with 8% involving cellphones1 0% of all fatal accidents are affected by distraction, with 14% involving cellphones1 5% of all crashes involving traumata are affected by distraction, with 8% involving cellphones

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How many people are killed by confused driving?

9% of fatal crash deaths were caused by distraction6% of all motorists involved in fatal crashes were reported as confused at the time of the crash9% of motorists 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as confused

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How many people are injured by distracted driving?

1 7.5% of all injuries from vehicle accidents are affected by distraction, with 8% involving cellphones

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Is it illegal to read a text while driving?

48 out of 50 countries+ DC have texting outlaws in placeMontana, Arizona, and Missouri are the only three states that do not currently have a texting-while-driving banning for all driversMissouri has a texting ban only for young drivers under age 21 Arizona has a texting ban only for novice drivers under age 18

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How much does a ticket for texting and driving cost?

The penalties and enforcement vary widely from government to stateThe highest fine is $10,000 in Alaska; the lowest is $21 in Missouri

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Can you go to jail if you text and drive?

In some states, technically yes. In Utah and Alaska, the law says you can go to jail for one year for your first offense if quoted. However, enforcement of distracted driving laws vary widely from state to state.


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Deadliest and safest states were determined based on total car crash deaths per 100,000 people. Government with the most confused driving tickets were ranked based on the total number of statewide cites reported per 100,000 licensed motorists starting at the time that state’s law went into effect through 2016.

This information was compared to each state’s confused driving laws and penalties. In ordering to get a more accurate picture of the likelihood of being in a fatal accident, and due to inconsistencies in reports from country to government, we did not compare distraction-only car accident data relating to a state-by-state level.

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Fatal Crash Data

Fatal crash data was compiled from the latest reports published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration( NHTSA) for 2016. NHTSA applies data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System( FARS ), which is a census of fatal accidents in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico( Puerto Rico is not included in US totals ).

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Distracted Driving Laws

Information on state-by-state confused driving statutes were compiled from several sources, including the Governors Highway Safety Association( GHSA ), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety( IIHS ), the National Conference of State Legislatures( NCSL ), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Distracted Driving Ticket

Information on the number of distracted driving tickets was compiled from Hands Free Info.

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Limitations of Data

There is a lack of consistent provides information on confused driving from country to nation, especially on the enforcement of distracted driving statutes that are in place. Police crash reports vary across jurisdictions, thus creating potential inconsistencies in reporting.

According to the National Safety Council, confused driving is under-reported and crash reports are incomplete; reports in twenty-six states lack fields to capture texting, and thirty-two states lack fields to record hands-free cellphone use. In addition, there are twenty-three crash factors identified that should be captured on police reports, yet no nation is capturing all twenty-three. Kansas and Wisconsin include fourteen and Maryland, Kentucky, and Nebraska are each capturing five.

Related articles on SafeWise

The Safest and Most Dangerous Country for Motorist Best and Worst Country for Driving in Bad Weather Which Medical Conditions Can Affect a Person’s Ability to Drive Safely ? When Did Drunk Driving Become Illegal ? How to Help Aging Parents Drive Longer


1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Distracted Driving”2. Middle for Disease Control, “Distracted Driving”3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “The Economic and Societal Impact pf Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010( Revised )”4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Distracted Driving”5. AAA, “87% of Drivers Engage in Unsafe Behaviors While Behind the Wheel”6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010( Revised )”7. National Safety Council, “Technologies Can Reduce Cellphone Distracted Driving”8. National Safety Council, “News Release: NSC Freeing Latest Injury and Fatality Statistics and Trend”9. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Distracted Driving Consequences”1 0. Centers for Disease Control, “Distracted Driving

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Celeste Tholen

Written by

Celeste Tholen

Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She supervises editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a purpose to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer.

Prior to SafeWise, “shes working” as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with local communities paper. For the last six years, she’s contributed a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their behavior.

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