Tennessee was recently given an unfortunate distinction – the worst state for distracted driving among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Value Penguin recently released a study analyzing deaths in each state related to cell phone use between 2015-2017, and Tennessee did not perform well when compared to other states.
Between 2015-2017, there were over 1,400 fatalities nationwide involving some form of distracted driving. Distracted driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.” It encompasses many acts while operating a motor vehicle, including cell phone use, texting while driving, looking down at GPS, changing the radio station, eating, talking on the phone or to passengers, or engaging in any conduct that can take your eyes off the road.
Tennessee had the highest distracted driving fatality rate in the country, according to the comprehensive study. The average for all states was 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles. Tennessee’s rate was nearly five times as high, coming in at 7.20 fatalities per 10 billion miles. The next highest states were Delaware (3.28 fatalities), Wyoming (3.22 fatalities), Texas (3.00 fatalities), and Montana (2.91 fatalities). During the surveyed period of time, these five states were responsible for 31% of all distracted driving related fatalities, an astonishingly high number.