At any given daylight moment, about 660,000 automobile drivers are using a cellphone or manipulating an electronic device, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The figure has held steady since 2010 despite the fact that more than 3,300 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, according to NHTSA.
Under a 2011 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation, truck and bus drivers are prohibited from using handheld phones while driving. Those caught doing so face fines of up to $2,750 per offense, or license revocation for repeat offenses.
“Distracted driving is a serious and deadly epidemic on America’s roadways,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has long campaigned against distracted driving.
“There is no way to text and drive safely. Powering down your cellphone when you’re behind the wheel can save lives — maybe even your own,” he said in a statement. NHTSA is part of DOT.
In 2011, 103 million of the 212 million licensed drivers in the country were answering calls, and 50 million were making calls, said NHTSA, which released the data as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.