Distracted Driving caused 3,166 deaths in the U.S. Published July 31, 2019 By W.C.Pope 439th Airlift Wing WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working to raise drivers awareness of distracted driving and its potential danger and ultimately reduce the number of accidents it causes. Distraction occurs when drivers aren't paying full attention to the vehicle they are driving and focus on some other activity. Often people think that distracted driving centers around smart phones and texting, but distracted driving also includes eating, talking to passengers, smoking, adjusting the radio or climate controls. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 there were 3,166 people killed in vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, that is nine percent of the total 37,133 deaths on U.S. roads that year. Of the 3,166 that died, 2,994 were drivers. In some accidents there were more than one distracted driver. The risk of distracted driving poses a danger not only to people inside the vehicle but also to pedestrians and bicyclers outside. Of the distracted crashes 599 of these non-occupants were killed. Smart phones represented 14 percent of all distracted fatalities. That is a total of 434 deaths in 401 fatal crashes. The largest group affected by smart phone use are the drivers 15 to 19 years old, this is 23 percent of all drivers involved in fatal smart phone distracted driving crashes. The second highest is the 20 to 29 year-old age group with 19 percent. The number of fatal crashes has gone up from 30,202 in 2013 to 34,247 in 2017. One of the major factors is there are just more vehicles on the road, in 2015 there were an estimated 264 million vehicles on U.S. highways and last year it steadily rose to 281 million. The key to not having an distracted driving accident is to keep your focus on the road and be aware of other drivers. Pull over to the side of the road or into a rest stop to text or adjust your car stereo. You and the other people you share the road with, will be glad you did.