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Deaths to Distracted Driving Decrease — And Need to Decrease More

The numbers are in and deaths to instances of distracted driving are actually down for 2009 — 5,474 dead in 4,898 accidents compared to 5,838 in 5,307 crashes in 2008. For both years distracted driving comes to 16% of total vehicular fatalities because those numbers are down as well. All encouraging.

Now, look at this number. The number of fatalities linked to distracted driving has risen 22% since 2005. Granted, there are lots of ways to let your attention wander behind the wheel. I personally knew a lovely young man who died in a wreck when he reached for a cassette tape that had fallen on the floorboard.

The statistics, compiled by the Department of Transportation, weed out deaths directly linked to cell phones as 995 in 2009 with 24,000 resulting injuries. As Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood wrote on the department’s blog, Fastlane (, “people [are] being killed in crashes that are 100 percent preventable.”

That’s the real number that matters — 100% preventable.

LaHood went on to observe, “We’re hooked to our devices and we can’t put them down, even when it means jeopardizing our own safety and the safety of others. And we have young people texting habitually long before they learn to drive who then can’t even imagine turning off their devices when they climb behind the wheel.”

Do I talk on the phone when I drive? Yes. Do I text when I drive? No. If I’m expecting a message and the phone beeps, I pull over. Is that always convenient? No. Is death convenient? Not so much. This one is a no brainer people.

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