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Is distracted driving the cause for 10% spike in motor vehicle accident deaths since 2014?

April 6, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Virginia Tech distracted driving study shows how different forms of behavior are more deadly than ever


Yesterday, I discussed a recent statement that billionaire investor Warren Buffett made about how distracted driving is affecting our wallets by hiking the price of car insurance.

I thought the timing of Mr. Buffett’s comments were particularly significant given that a recent NHTSA study shows that traffic fatalities spiked by nearly 10% between 2014 and 2015 (which stands in stark contrast to the welcome 22% decline in fatalities between 2000 and 2014). To learn more, please check out Michigan Auto Law’s blog post, “Car accident fatalities spike nearly 10%.”

Today, I’d like to continue the discussion that I started in my previous blog posts with some eye-opening findings from a new Virginia Tech Transportation study on distracted driving.

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute recently published a study showing the crash risks associated with different forms of distracted driving. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America on February 22, 2016, the study, “Driver crash risk factors and prevalence evaluation using naturalistic driving data,” reached the following conclusions:

“[M]ore than 50% of the time, some type of distraction prevents drivers from engaging in the primary task of driving.” (Page 3 of 6)

“[P]otentially 36%, or 4 million of the nearly 11 million crashes occurring in the United State annually …, could be avoided if no distraction was present …” (Page 4 of 6)

Specifically, the researchers associated the following forms of distracted driving the following crash risks (Pages 4 and 5 of 6):

Distracted driving and increase in crashes chart, image

The results of the VTTI study are based on “naturalistic driving” (ND) data from 905 injury and property damage auto accidents. The data was gathered from the study’s 3,500 drivers/participants over a three-year period.

Related information:

Who’s the most dangerous driver: Texting, drunk, high or drowsy?

Why doesn’t Michigan treat texting while driving like drunk driving?

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