Distracted Driving Facts

  • The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) shares a vision with other state and local public agencies to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. This vision is called Target Zero.
  • With distracted driving increasing, WTSC’s goal to reach Target Zero becomes more challenging. There was a 29% increase in traffic fatalities related to distracted driving from 2013 to 2016. 
  • Talking on a cell phone increases the risk of crashing by three times. Entering text into a cell phone can increase crash risk by up to 23 times.
  • Cell phone use causes what experts refer to as “inattention blindness.”  The brain cannot perform two tasks at once, and is unable to pay attention to both cell phone use and the driving environment.
  • It takes a driver 27 seconds to refocus on the road after using a cell phone – in which time, a car moving at 25 mph can travel the length of three football fields.
  • Law enforcement officers have written nearly 1,500 Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (E-DUI) tickets each month since the new law began in July 2017.

Female Distracted Driving Survey Results

In general, male drivers engage in high-risk behaviors such as impairment and speeding more often than female drivers of comparable ages. However, female drivers in fatal crashes are slightly more likely to be distracted than their male counterparts. This is why WTSC decided to conduct a survey last year of female drivers. The survey of 847 Washington drivers, all women between the ages of 16-34, showed a gap between knowledge and attitudes about distracted driving and actual driving behaviors:

  • 96% agreed that using a cell-phone in any capacity while they are driving is dangerous.
  • 91% agreed that they may cause an accident if they are using their cell phone while driving. 
  • Only 1% are “very comfortable” being a passenger in a car with a driver who is texting.
  • Only 2% are “very comfortable” if the driver is using the phone to check social media.
  • Only 5% are “very comfortable” if the driver is driving with one hand while holding a phone with the other. 


  • 96% have their phone on while driving.
  • 91% use their phone’s GPS to navigate.
  • 64% answer a ringing phone while driving.
  • 59% use their phone stopped at a traffic light.
  • 55% say they can drive safely using just one hand on the steering wheel.
  • 48% read an incoming text message.
  • 12% check social media.

Motivations to put their phones down:

  • 95% are concerned that being on their phone while driving affects their safety and the safety of their passengers.
  • 95% want to model correct behavior for their kids.