Drivers are getting the message that driving while using a cell phone can result in traffic fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its latest distracted driving data to spearhead their annual “Put the Phone Away or Pay” campaign. 

The new data appears to show that drivers are decreasing cell phone use while driving. In 2023, NHTSA statistics showed that 40,990 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, falling 3.6 percent compared to 42,514 fatalities in 2022.  

In 2022, 8 percent of all fatal crashes, 12 percent of injury crashes and 11 percent of police-reported motorcycle traffic crashes were the result of distraction-affected driving, according to the latest NHTSA data.

There were more than 3,330 people killed, and 289 injuries directly related to distracted driving. According to the NHTSA, nearly 5 percent of all drivers involved in fatal accidents were the result of distracted driving at the time of the crash. In 2022, 368 reported fatal traffic crashes were the direct result of cell phone usage.

Drivers aged 25 to 34 had the highest rates of distracted driving, making up 21 percent of drivers in fatal traffic crashes, and accounted for 23 percent of all distracted drivers and 28 percent of drivers distracted by cell phones in fatal crashes.

“Distracted driving is extremely dangerous,” NHTSA deputy administrator Sophie Shulman said. “Distraction comes in many forms, but it is also preventable. Our rebranded campaign reminds everyone to Put the Phone Away or Pay, because distracted driving can cost you in fines—or even cost you your life or the life of someone else on the road.”

Pedestrians and cyclists have also seen the number of fatalities rise because of distracted driving. In 2022, 621 non-occupants were killed in a distraction-affected traffic crash, according to the report. 

This year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has made strides to help reduce the number of accidents and fatalities from distracted driving. In a recent report from the DOT, titled 2024 Progress Update, calls have been made for a revision to the distracted driving prevention campaign material to better reflect the evolution of distracted driving dangers as well as updated content during high-visibility enforcement activities. 

The DOT also calls for a Revise distracted driving prevention campaign material to reflect the evolution of distracted dangers associated with handheld devices. The DOT also calls for a distraction research roadmap, informed by diverse expertise and public comment, that could support future updates, such as visual-manual driver distraction guidelines for in-vehicle electronic devices.