One in 10 fatal car crashes in the U.S. each year are caused by distracted driving, and using cell phones while behind the wheel kills as many as 300 people annually in some states, according to a new report from Expert Market.
Texas emerged as the worst state for distracted driving with 312 deaths each year attributed to cell phone use. Other states ranking among the top five for fatal crashes caused by cell phone use include California (292.5), Florida (269.9), Georgia (132.7), and North Carolina (127.5).
The top three states with the fewest fatal crashes linked to cell phones were District of Colombia (2.3), Rhode Island (4.1), and Vermont (5.0).
State rankings were created based on official figures provided from the National Highway Traffic Administration and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. The research team took the total number of deaths on the road for each state and then looked at the national average of deaths caused by being distracted on a cell phone. They then applied this average to each state to estimate how many deaths were likely to have been caused by driving while using a phone.
Distracted driving remains among the top safety concerns on today’s roadways. In 2015 alone, the number of people killed by distracted driving was 3,477. Moreover, making a call while driving increases the risk of an accident by 2.8 times according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. Even so, demonstrating a clear link between cell phone use and fatalities can be challenging.
"Deaths caused by cell phone use in the car have been notoriously under reported. This is due to the fact that in order for a death to be classified as caused by a phone, the cell use must be witnessed by a police person," said lead researcher Karla McDougall, deputy editor of Expert Market. "This report sheds light on how big the problem could be and how many lives are unnecessarily lost due to distracted drivers. We hope this acts as a warning to people who might be tempted to take a call or reply to a message — nothing is that important it should risk your life."
For complete state rankings, read the report here.