Distracted Driving a Global Problem: CDC

Road traffic crashes are a global public health problem, contributing to an estimated 1.3 million deaths annually.

Known risk factors for road traffic crashes and related injuries and deaths include speed, alcohol, nonuse of restraints, and nonuse of helmets.

distracted drivingMore recently, driver distraction has become an emerging concern. A recent CDC study compared the percentage of distracted drivers in the United States and seven European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The study found that among U.S. drivers (ages 18-64 years old), 69 percent reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed, compared to 21 percent in the United Kingdom.

It also found that close to one-third of drivers in the United States reported that they had read or sent text messages or emails while driving compared to just 15 percent of drivers from Spain.

Lessons learned from successful road safety efforts aimed at reducing other risky driving behaviors, such as seat belt nonuse and alcohol-impaired driving, could be helpful to the United States and other countries in addressing this issue.

Strategies such as legislation combined with high-visibility enforcement and public education campaigns deserve further research to determine their effectiveness in reducing mobile device use while driving.

Additionally, the role of emerging vehicle and mobile communication technologies in reducing distracted driving–related crashes should be explored.

By Rebecca B. Naumann, MSPH, Ann M. Dellinger, PhD, Div of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC.Corresponding contributor: Rebecca B. Naumann, rnaumann@cdc.gov, 770-488-3922.