Distracted driving – Health Statistics

Distracted driving is a main public health concern in the U.S due to the high number of deaths that arise from vehicle crashes. According to the national safety council, motor vehicle crashes contribute the highest proportion of deaths of US population aged three years to 34 years and are the most implicated cause of work-related death (2010, p. 3). Similarly annual deaths of soldiers while in privately-owned vehicles are estimated to be higher than the summed up deaths arising from army ground accidents (NSC, 2010a). The world health organization also estimated the fatality rates from crashes in high-income regions to have been 10.3 for 100,000 people in 2004, a rate that was estimated to rise if the causative factors of road crashes was not attended to (2009, p. Vii). Despite the forecasted rise, the report did not concern itself with distracted driving as a significant causative factor of accidents mainly assessing speeding and driving under influence of alcohol (WHO, 2009). Forecasted trend could thus progress at a higher rate if these attributes of distracted driving are taken into account.

With increasing acknowledgement that distracted driving poses a high public health risk out of the injuries and deaths it causes; attempts have been made to quantify its effects on the health of a population. NHTSA has for instance provided statistics that establish distracted driving as a risk to the well being of the population. According to the organization, of all the crashes that were fatal in 2008, distracted driving contributed at least 16 percent to these (NHTSA, 2009b, p.1). Similarly for crashes that led to injuries in the same year; distracted driving accounted for 21 percent of the cases (NHTSA, 2009b, p.1). For crashes whose core cause was attributed to the driver, 18 percent have been suggested to arise from distraction (NHTSA, 2009b, p.1). Such statistics exemplify the adverse effects that distracted driving could bring to a population.

Another NSC report also provides statistics for distracted driving that evidence it as a public health risk. According to the report, of all the unintentional injuries, motor vehicle injuries contributed the second highest proportion of deaths with 39000 deaths in 2008 being only second to home injury account of 54,500 fatalities (NSC, 2010b). Of the motor vehicle deaths public nonwork category was the highest implicated with 37,046 deaths whereas work and home environments followed with 1,754 and 200 deaths respectively (NSC, 2010b). Apart from the deaths, the disabling injuries from motor vehicle crashes were a staggering 2,100,000 with public nonwork category contributing 2 million of these (NSC, 2010b). Though unintentional-injury deaths were noted to have dropped in recent years, the 2008 figures remained 36 percentage point above the lowest recorded deaths in 1992 (NSC, 2010b). Such high figures resulting from motor vehicle crashes have necessitated the combating of all causative factors. The high occurrence of the accidents in the public non work environment also buttresses the role that a sound policy could have in lowering the incidence. Go to part 6 here.

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