The role of alcohol use on recent trends in distracted driving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Distracted driving is now an increasingly deadly threat to road safety. We provide evidence that intoxicated driving is increasingly responsible for recent increases in fatalities from distracted driving crashes. This study describes trends in deaths on U.S. public roads caused by alcohol-involved and distracted drivers using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) - a census of fatal crashes on U.S. public roads. Fatality rates per vehicle-miles traveled are calculated using data from the Federal Highway Administration. Alcohol-involved drivers who are simultaneously distracted were responsible for 1750 deaths in 2009, an increase of more than 63% from 2005 when there were 1072 deaths. Alcohol use while driving is increasingly responsible for a growing number of fatalities from distracted driving, accounting for 32% of deaths from distracted driving in 2009 versus 24% in 2005. The fatality rate from these crashes increased from 35.9 to 59.2 deaths per 100 billion vehicle-miles traveled after 2005. Alcohol use is quickly increasing as an important factor behind distracted driving fatalities. This has implications for policies combating distracted driving that do not address the role of alcohol use in distracted driving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-192
Number of pages4
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - 2013


  • Accidents
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Mortality
  • Motor vehicles
  • Traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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