Driver Inattention Major Factor in Most Traffic Crashes

David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

Nearly 80% of traffic crashes involved driver inattention in a major study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institution (VTTI).

The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study tracked the behavior of the drivers of 100 vehicles equipped with video and sensor devices for over a year. During the research period the vehicles were driven nearly 2,000,000 miles with 42,300 hours of data.

“The most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones,” reports the study. Crashes attributable to talking is about equal to those attributable to dialing. In addition, drowsiness is a significant problem that increases a drivers risk of a crash by a factor of at least four. However, it appears that drowsy driving is significantly under-reported in police crash investigations and reports.


  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Release Findings of Breakthrough Research on Real-World Driver Behavior, Distraction and Crash Factors. Washington: National Highway traffic Safety Administration press release, April 20, 2006.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving