Study: Men Three Times More Likely to Die In Distracted Driving Accidents

Distracted driving was responsible for more than 3,000 fatalities in 2020 in the United States, a whopping 75 percent of which had males in the driver's seat, according to a data from NHTSA. Surprisingly only 13 percent involved a cell phone.

Drivers are also most likely to get hit by a distracted driver in New Mexico, and least likely in Mississippi, according to the same data. In total, 324,652 people were injured in car crashed involving distractions in 2020.

The numbers were analyzed by Zuboti, an international driver's education company that helps students practice and take driver's license exams. The company says that in addition to cell phone use, the other most common causes of distracted driving incidents are reaching for moving objects, eating, applying makeup, reading, and other passengers.

Overall, distracted driving is still behind driving too fast for conditions, alcohol, leaving your lane and failing to yield as the most common causes of car accidents.

Distracted driving
A driver looks down while behind the wheel of a car on April 30, 2016 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It takes one second at 60 miles per hour (mph) for a distracted driver to travel 90 feet; at 75 mph they'll travel 110 feet while distracted for a second. And most of those tasks above take more than a second.

The data was gathered from the Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) developed by NHTSA, the use of electronic devices, and a study on fatal road crashes and injuries involving different age groups.

For the second year in a row, the data showed, New Mexico had the most distracted drivers in the country by factor of two. In 2020, the most recent data, it had 148 fatalities translating to 10.05 deaths per 100,000 licensed drivers. The state with the second most distracted driving fatalities was Kansas, with just 4.49 deaths per 100,000 licensed drivers.

Mississippi also repeated, with only 11 total distracted driving deaths and just 0.55 per 100,000. California had almost ten times the distracted crashes (106), but also has ten times the drivers. It's percentage of fatal crashes was worse than Mississippi, hence the lower ranking. Nevada, Connecticut and West Virginia round out the top five safest states.

In the male versus female debate, in 2020 there were 2,125 men killed in distracted driving incidents and 781 females killed. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety there are several factors that make men more risky drivers starting with the fact that men average more miles driven per year than women.

"Men are more likely to engage in risky driving practices, including not using seat belts, driving while impaired by alcohol, and speeding. Crashes involving male drivers often are more severe than those involving female drivers," IIHS explains on its website. "However, females are more likely than males to be killed or injured in crashes of equal severity, although sex differences in fatality risk diminish with age."

Young drivers, ages 15 to 20, are the most likely to get into a distracted driving accident. However, ages 25 to 34 years made up 25 percent of all distracted drivers and 30 percent of drivers distracted by cell phones in an accident.

To combat distracted driving, departments like the Michigan State Police (MSP) are partnering with NHTSA and holding special enforcement events to make their point.

Connect to Disconnect (C2D) was a special operation coordinated by State Highway Safety Offices and law enforcement agencies. During the event in April officers were asked to ticket drivers for violating their state's or local jurisdiction's cell phone or texting ban.

"The C2D initiative aims to demonstrate a nationwide commitment to enforcing cell phone and texting bans and reduce traffic crashes caused by distracted drivers, ultimately preventing injuries and deaths associated with cell phone use and texting while driving," the MSP said in a press release.

According to the state police texting is the most alarming distraction because it takes your eyes off the road, considered a visual distraction. It takes your hands off the wheel which is a manual distraction and it takes your mind off the drive, called cognitive distraction.

The best ways to keep your eyes on the road are to use your phone's Do Not Disturb Function, avoid eating, drinking and grooming, and do not drive when angry or upset.