We had a robust debate on Monday on the use of cell phones and wireless devices while driving. Since then, Consumer Reports Cars has taken a look at the actual statistics for accidents caused by driver distraction, and also the cell-while-driving laws actually on the books in the United States in different localities. Spoiler alert: Texting while driving isn’t a good idea.
A bit of the analysis:
The National Safety Council (NSC) earlier this month released an estimate described as “conservative” that more than 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths are caused a year by a distracted drivers on cell phones.
NHTSA estimates that driver distraction from all sources contributes to 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes. If so, then data from this federal agency released this month shows that the NSC figures are indeed conservative.
NHTSA shows 5,811,000 total crashes in 2008-notably down from 2007. (It is important to note that during the first three months of 2009, national vehicle miles declined by about 11.7 billion miles compared to the previous year. That said, deaths per mile are also down.) One quarter of that 2008 figure is 1,452,750-a significant number of crashes potentially impacted by driver distraction.
Just put down the phone, people.
Real cell-phone dangers exposed: Using wireless communication devices while driving [Consumer Reports Cars]
NHTSA withholds government study exposing cell phone driving dangers [Consumer Reports Cars]