Texas led the nation in distracted driving deaths in 2017, as 366 people lost their lives as a result of an inattentive driver, according to the National Safety Council’s analysis of 2017 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In 2017, the nation experienced a slight dip in total lost lives due to distracted driving, with the behavior claiming some 3,166 lives versus 3,450 in 2016.
The large geographic size of Texas may have played a role in its ranking first. Florida ranked second with 218 deaths involving a distracted driver, and New Jersey came in third with 152 fatalities.
Distracted driving involves a wide variety of behaviors including manual, visual, and cognitive that take the driver’s mind and eyes off the road and/or his hands off the wheel. These include everything from texting, making calls, and fiddling with the radio or navigation system to eating, drinking and applying makeup while operating a motor vehicle.
Additional states that made the top ten list for fatalities that involved a distracted driver in 2017 include: Louisiana (149 deaths), California and Kentucky (tied with 146), New York (143), New Mexico (127), Kansas (103), North Carolina (101), and Virginia (96).
States that ranked the lowest in fatalities involving a distracted driver include the District of Columbia, with just one lost life, Alaska with three, and Rhode Island with four fatalities.
In a 2017 Traffic Safety Culture Index Report prepared by AAA Foundation, most drivers (87.5%) say that distracted drivers are a bigger problem today than in past years. In fact, distracted driving outpaced all other roadway issues as a growing concern.
Texting is the most alarming distraction, according to NHTSA. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.