Washington residents likely know that the use of mobile electronic devices while behind the wheel can be dangerous, but they may not be aware of how serious the problem is. Accidents involving a distracted driver claimed the lives of over 3,000 people around the country in both 2011 and 2012,, and more than 400,000 people were injured in these collisions in 2012. While the increasing popularity of smartphones is a global phenomenon, a 2011 study found that drivers in the United States were far more likely to use these devices while driving than their European counterparts.
Young drivers are involved in distracted driving auto injury accidents at a higher rate than more experienced motorists, and they are more likely to send or receive a text message while behind the wheel. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that almost half of American high school students of driving age admit to texting while driving, and these students are also more likely to drink and drive.
While laws are being passed to curb the use of mobile electronic devices by drivers, it is not yet known how effective these measures will be. Other efforts to tackle the problem involve public awareness campaigns designed to drive home how dangerous distracted driving can be. The 171 billion text messages received or sent in the United States during December 2012 is an indication of how necessary these steps are.