While driving deaths went down in 2020 – which makes sense considering we were stuck at home for much of the year – there was one category of dangerous driving that actually rose: distracted driving.
Even though people were driving less, an analysis by MoneyGeek found a 12% increase in fatalities attributed to distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving in 2020.
The NHTSA defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention” while behind the wheel. That includes eating, talking and messing with your GPS. But the organization says texting and driving is the most “alarming” form of distracted driving because it takes your eyes off the road for several seconds at a time.
“Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed,” explains the NHTSA.
MoneyGeek analyzed NHTSA’s data on distracted driving to find out which states have the biggest problem with it. They also looked at highway usage data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to determine how much distracted driving is happening per mile driven so that the biggest states don’t just end up in all the top spots.
MoneyGeek found these states had the highest distracted driving fatality rates:
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
The best places for distracted driving, with the fewest related fatalities, were:
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
Rhode Island, which tops the list of best states, saw just four deaths related to distracted driving in 2020. Meanwhile, New Mexico saw 276 related deaths.
You can see where your state ranks on MoneyGeek’s full analysis.