On any given day about 7,000 people are sent to emergency rooms or care centers from car crashes in the United States and seven teens die.
The leading cause of death of Americans ages 54 and younger, over 2.2 million adult drivers and passengers are treated at these emergency departments according new information released by the Center of Disease Control.
About 3,000 teens, ages 16 through 19 will be killed in 2014 with over 292,000 more being treated for injuries. While 14 percent of the U.S. population are ages 15 through 24, this group of males account for 30 percent of the total cost of vehicle injuries. For females it is 28 percent.
“The cell phone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive,” said Tom Frieden, Director of Disease Control and Prevention. “Driving and dialing or texting don’t mix. If you are driving, pull over to a safe place and stop before you use your cell phone.”
Frieden is particularly concerned because the rise in death of ‘distracted drivers’ is reaching more than nine people each day. Distracted drivers take their eyes of the road, take their hands off the steering wheel or take their mind off of driving. Studies find that texting while driving is especially dangerous.
“Adult seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes,” Frieden says. “Yet millions of adults do not wear their seat belts on every trip.”
The cost, in lifetime medical bills, is now over $18 billion for those injured in vehicle crashes each year. In terms of lifetime work cost is about $33 billion for each year of crash injuries. More than 1 million days are spent in hospitals each year due to these injuries.
The last CDC study found crash death rates, medical costs and work loss costs were the highest (about half of all costs) in these 10 states:
California ($4.16 billion),
Texas ($3.50 billion),
Florida ($3.16 billion),
Georgia ($1.55 billion),
Pennsylvania ($1.52 billion),
North Carolina ($1.50 billion),
New York ($1.33 billion),
Illinois ($1.32 billion),
Ohio ($1.23 billion),
Tennessee ($1.15 billion).
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Recent studies also show that 69% of drivers in the U.S. ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. In Europe, this percentage ranged from 21% in the United Kingdom to 59% in Portugal.
The same report indicated that 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 acknowledged that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. In Europe, this percentage ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal.3
“Using a mobile device behind the wheel—whether for talking, texting or emailing—has become relatively common, in both the United States and many European countries,” claimed Rebecca Naumann, an epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “But driving while distracted is a dangerous behavior and has been linked to thousands of deaths every year.”
“Motor vehicle crashes and related injuries are preventable,” Behavioral scientist for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Gwen Bregan, comments. “Although much has been done to help keep people safe on the road, no state has fully implemented all the interventions proven to increase the use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts; reduce drinking and driving; and improve teen driver safety.”