New Report: Distracted Driving Deaths On The Rise

Jul 13, 2022 | Driving Safety

A new report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the number of fatal crashes in the U.S. caused by distracted driving increased during the first year of the global pandemic, despite less traffic on the road.

According to the NHTSA, there were 38,824 fatalities in traffic accidents in 2020, an increase of more than six percent from 2019. That figure includes 3,142 deaths resulting from “distraction-affected” incidents, in which drivers were talking on cell phones, texting, fiddling with climate, navigation, or audio controls, or otherwise not paying attention to traffic conditions. That’s an increase from 2,858 distraction-affected deaths in 2018 and 3,119 such events in 2019.

In addition, an estimated 324,652 people were injured in 2020 in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. The report notes that some crashes involved multiple distracted drivers. The problem is probably more widespread than the figures indicate, since most drivers won’t admit to texting or other distracted behaviors, and there may not be sufficient evidence in a fatal crash to determine if distracted driving was responsible.

Some other unsettling numbers:

  • Cell phone use remains a major culprit in distracted-driving incidents, playing a role in 396 deaths in 2020.
  • Teen drivers, those between the ages of 15 and 20, constitute the age group with the largest proportion of distracted drivers.
  • Distracted drivers, their passengers, and other motorists aren’t the only ones at risk. In 2020 there were 587 “nonoccupants”—meaning pedestrians, cyclists, and others sharing the road—who were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
  • It’s estimated that distracted driving plays a role in 87% of rear-end collisions.


The Colorado Department of Transportation recommends putting your phone in “do not disturb” mode and minimizing other distractions. Select your car’s climate, entertainment and GPS settings before you embark. Have a passenger designated to respond to calls or messages while you’re on the road, or pull over if you need to check phone notifications or have a snack. In other words, avoid using your phone and especially texting while driving.

And, if you see another vehicle moving erratically or exhibiting other signs of a dangerously distracted driver, don’t hesitate to call the Colorado State Patrol at *277 to report it. But pull over before making that call.


For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.