Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the US in 1999-2008

Subject: Transportation
Pages: 3
Words: 678
Reading time:
3 min


It has been estimated that one in every six fatal vehicle collisions in the year 2008, was caused by driver interruption while driving (Wilson & Stimpson, 2010, p. 2213). Though the causes of the distraction varies, the use cell phones and text messaging has been ranked as the major factor. Due to this increase in fatal accidents, an increasingly large number of states have been implementing bans on the use of mobile phones while driving (McCartt, Hellinga & Braitman, 2006, p. 89). In their research on the trends of fatalities that are resulted from distracted driving in the United States, Wilson and Stimpson examined whether the increased mobile phone use and texting could be the major cause of these fatal crashes. This paper gives a summary of their work.

The main objective of this research was to examine the trend in distracted driving fatalities, and how they are related to mobile phone use and texting. To carry this out, data records on all road fatalities from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was used. This system according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2008), gives a record of all fatalities that occur on the public roads in the United States from the periods of 1999 to 2005.

Hypothesis Statement

Is the use of cell phones and texting while driving a major reason for the increased distracted driving fatalities?

Type of study

This study employed the use of both quantitative data and qualitative information, but it is more of a qualitative research than quantitative. This research uses data on all fatal accidents that occur in all the public roads in the United States to document the trends in the accidents. This research lacks statistical tests and this makes it more of a qualitative research.


Most of the information used in the study was obtained from secondary sources. Most of the participants analyzed in these secondary sources were majorly male and female drivers, white and Hispanic drivers, and the young less then thirty or older than thirty drivers.


The method used in the study was to analyze the records available on all road fatal accidents from the year 1999 to 2008, which is accessible from government databases. These databases contains demographic and crash information on every accident taking place on public roads that result in at least one fatality within thirty days (Nelson, Atchley & Little, 2009, p. 446). Cell phone subscriber data was collected twice a year in the months of June and December. The whole procedure involved studying the trends in distracted driving crashes, and the characteristic of the driver involved in the crashes (Redelmeier & Tibshirani, 1997, p. 455). Finally, a linear multivariate regression analysis was used to estimate the relationship between distracted driving fatalities and texting volumes.

Statistical Tests

The study employed the use of descriptive statistics of distracted fatalities and driver characteristics against year and multivariate regression estimates to come up with the data results. No statistical test was carried out in the research and only factual results from secondary sources were used.

Results or findings

The results from the research shows that the fatal accidents caused by distracted driving started increasing by twenty-eight percent from 2005. The fatalities rose from four thousand five hundred and seventy two from 2005 to five thousand eight hundred and seventy in 2008. The results also show that more males were involved in collisions with roadside obstructions in urban areas than females (Kircher, 2007, p. 89). From the multivariate analysis, it was found that an additional sixteen thousand road fatalities were caused by increased texting volumes from 2001 to 2007 (Redelmeier & Tibshirani, 1997, p. 455).


The authors concluded by saying that distracted driving has become a public hazard due to the rise in texting volumes which has become a major contributing factor to the rise in distracted crashes.


The research article is well organized with factual and statistical evidence supporting every claim made by the researchers. It is easy to understand with a continuous prose from the objectives, methods and to the conclusion.


Kircher, K. (2007). Driver distraction: A review of the literature. Linkoping: Swedish National Road and Traffic Research Institute.

McCartt A. T., Hellinga L. A., & Braitman K. A. (2006). Cell phones and driving: review of research. Traffic Injuries Preview, 7(2), 89-106.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic safety facts research note: driver electronic device use in 2008. Web.

Nelson, E., Atchley, P., & Little T. D. (2009). The effects of perception of risk and importance of answering and initiating a cellular phone call while driving. Accident Annual Prev, 41(3), 438-444.

Redelmeier, D. A., & Tibshirani R. J. (1997). Association between cellular-telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions. N Engl Medical Journal, 336(7), 453-458.

Wilson, F., & Stimpson, J. (2010). Trends in Fatalities from Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008. American Journal of Public Health, 100(11), 2213- 2219.