2022 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheet: Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as activities that divert attention away from safe driving. This may include talking on the phone, texting, eating or drinking, manipulating audio systems, etc. According to the National Safety Council, cell phones remain a top distraction because of the length of time they are used by drivers on a daily basis. 

The United States Department of Transportation uses the Safe System Approach to work towards zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries. The Safe System Approach recognizes that people may make unsafe decisions, such as driving distracted, or may have momentary lapses of attention, and designs a system with redundancies in place to protect everyone. The Federal Highway Administration names safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care as key elements of a Safe System. These elements together create multiple layers of protection to improve safety.

Analyses presented in the distracted driving program area are defined by a driver’s inattention to driving due to some other activity. These analyses will focus exclusively on fatalities using the FARS data set as the SWITRS distracted driving data is limited to cell phone use.

Garrett Fortin
Jill F. Cooper
Publication date: 
September 12, 2022
Publication type: 
Fact Sheet