Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Distracted driving deaths go unreported

Distracted driving has been a national issue over the last four years. It has garnered enough attention that Oprah Winfrey started a national pledge for drivers to put their phones down behind the wheel. Also, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has lead initiatives prohibiting commercial bus and truck drivers from using cell phones while driving.

Despite the push from social media and auto safety groups, fatal distracted driving accidents still occur...but they are not accurately reported. The National Safety Council conducted a study of federal and state date and found that the causes of accidents were not correctly attributed to cell phone use.

The Council reviewed data stemming from 180 fatal crashes between 2009 and 2011. It found that 8 percent of the 2009 crashes indicated that cell phones were involved, while 35 percent of 2010 had this information. But even when drivers admitted to using cell phones in fatal accidents, this information was not properly documented. 

Overall, only 385 of the 32,000 traffic deaths coded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database were attributed to cell phone use. This lead the Council to question how accurate the numbers actually were.

Janet Foetscher, the council's president and CEO, explained that a number of factors lead to this conclusion, including inconsistent methods of collecting data, drivers lying about cell phone use, and memory lapses could contribute to the discrepancies.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that distracted driving is still a problem, and more lives will be lost if drivers are not more responsible about cell phone use while driving.

Source: CBS, Study: Distracted driving deaths underreported, May 7, 2013

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