Distracted driving is one of the biggest risks on the modern roadway. Situational issues, like inclement weather, can cause crashes. So can the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking or while exhausted. Distracted driving, however, is a more common risk factor. There are likely many more people driving distracted than you even realize.

There are many kinds of distraction. Some people get lost in thought. Others try to eat a meal during a commute. There are even drivers who put on clothing or makeup while operating a vehicle. However, distractions caused by smartphones are a serious risk factor as well. Reading a text or taking a picture with a phone while driving all too often results in a serious crash.

Statistics on distracted driving may be far from accurate

According to a recent study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) estimate of how many people use their phone may be far too low. The NHTSA estimates that roughly 660,000 people use their phones during daylight hours each day. However, a study conducted that analyzed 100 billion miles of driving shows much higher rates of cellphone use. In fact, the study, conducted by Zendrive, found that 3.5 billion miles of those 100 billion involved someone using a phone while driving.

That means that every day, 69 million drivers in the United States use their phone behind the wheel. That figure makes it clear why more than a quarter of all preventable collisions involve mobile phone distractions. They also found these people used their phones for just under two minutes of every hour on the road. That’s a lot of distance traveled looking at a screen instead of the road.

Distracted drivers can cause crashes or hit pedestrians

There are countless reasons why people may feel tempted to look down at their phones. Maybe they heard a new email or text message arrive. Perhaps they need directions to their destination. The best safety tip in either situation is to pull over to check your phone or to ask a passenger to check it on your behalf. If you find that you can’t overcome the temptation to look at the screen, you may want to start putting your phone in the back seat or the trunk when you drive.

It only takes a second of inattentiveness to cause a crash that results in serious injury or even death. Distracted drivers may not notice pedestrians in the crosswalk or the motorcyclist in the next lane over. That failure could have tragic results for the party that the distracted driver failed to see. For those who suffer injuries or lose a loved one because of a distracted driver, there may be legal options for holding that driver responsible for the crash.