Washington is one of the worst US states for distracted driving, study finds

(NEXSTAR) – While driving fatalities declined in 2020 – which makes sense given we were stuck at home for much of the year – there was one category of dangerous driving that actually increased : distracted driving.

Even though people were driving less, a MoneyGeek analysis found a 12% increase in deaths 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.

NHTSA defines distracted driving as “any activity that distracts you” while driving. This includes eating, talking and playing with your GPS. But the organization says texting and driving is the most “alarming” form of distracted driving, as it takes your eyes off the road for several seconds at a time.

“Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, it’s like driving through an entire football field with your eyes closed,” says NHTSA.

MoneyGeek analyzed NHTSA data on distracted driving to determine which states have the biggest problem. They also looked at freeway usage data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to determine the amount of distracted driving per mile traveled so the biggest states don’t just end up in all the top spots.

While Washington came in just behind the five worst states in the nation for distracted driving, Oregon remained in the middle of the pack at No. 27.

Here are the states with the highest distracted driving death rates, according to MoneyGeek analysis:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Louisiana
  3. Kansas
  4. Kentucky
  5. Hawaii
  6. Washington
  7. Wyoming
  8. Illinois
  9. New Jersey
  10. Idaho
  11. Virginia
  12. Oklahoma
  13. Texas
  14. Florida
  15. Arizona

The best places for distracted driving, with the fewest related fatalities, were:

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Mississippi
  3. washington d.c.
  4. Nevada
  5. Connecticut
  6. California
  7. Georgia
  8. West Virginia
  9. South Dakota
  10. Utah
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Indiana
  13. Minnesota
  14. Iowa
  15. Massachusetts

Rhode Island, which tops the list of top states, had just four distracted driving-related deaths in 2020. Meanwhile, New Mexico had 276 related deaths.

You can see where your state stands in MoneyGeek’s comprehensive analysis.

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