Distracted driving certainly isn’t unique to any single age group. The data shows, however, that people under the age of 45 are the most likely to drive while distracted. This includes not only texting or other uses of a phone, but also other forms of distraction such as eating, grooming, reading books, and talking with passengers.
How significant is the generational divide?
Age differences of distracted drivers
In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made some startling findings on age differences in distracted driving. These included:
- Drivers in the 15 to 20 years old age group represented the largest proportion of drivers distracted at the time of a fatal crash at 9%.
- Drivers in the 25 to 34 group accounted for the next highest rate in fatal crashes, with 7% of the people in this age group distracted at the time of the crash
- Cellphone usage also plays a big factor in fatal crashes involving distracted drivers under 45. For example, 23% of drivers ages 25 to 34 used cellphones, followed by drivers ages 35 to 44 (20%); drivers ages 15 to 20 (17%); and drivers ages 21 to 24 (16%).
The consequences of distracted driving
Distracted driving often leads to crashes with severe injuries and life-altering outcomes.
- In 2019, NHTSA found a total of 3,142 people died and an estimated 424,000 people were injured in crashes that involved distracted drivers. Of those fatalities, 18% or 566 were non-vehicle occupants such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
- A total of 6% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted when the crash occurred.
With so much distraction out there on the road, the long-held advice to “drive defensively” remains truer than ever. Indeed, a corollary is probably needed: Drive defensively and minimize distraction.