Accidents Due to Distracted Driving May Be Drastically Under-Reported

A study conducted by the National Safety Council (NSC) found that the number of cell phone-related motor vehicle accidents may have been under-reported and that one in four accidents may be cell phone related. The NSC is claiming that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) may have under-reported cell phone-related accidents by up to 48%. There were examples in the NHTSA database where the cause of a fatal accident did not mention anything about cell phone distraction when that may have been a contributing factor. Also, in 2010, there were 93 fatal accidents in Tennessee that were reported to have been caused by cell phone use. In the same year, New York only attributed 1 fatal accident to cell phone use and New York has three times the population of Tennessee.

The NHTSA has acknowledged that the crash data has certain limitations which cause distracted related accidents to go unreported.

There are many other challenges to determining that cell phone use contributed to a fatal accident including:

  • Inaccurate witness statements
  • Drivers not admitting to cell phone use while driving
  • Cell phone records can be difficult to obtain
  • Cell phone date must align with the exact time of the accident and that is not always known
  • If the accident involved another charge such as speeding or alcohol impairment, the police may not investigate cell phone use
  • Some fatal accident reports will list "failure to keep in the proper lane" as the reason for the accident, but the accident may have been caused by a driver who was using a cell phone when they drifted over the center line and caused a head-on collision

Other ways that indicate cell phone involvement can include the following:

  • A passenger reports a driver's cell phone use
  • Police discover unfinished messages at a crash scene
  • A coroner identifies cell phone use
  • Records or documents introduced at trial or testimony that includes wireless records

Distracted Driving Statistics:

Research conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute resulted in the following statistics:

  • Texting among teens results in erratic driving behavior like speeding or weaving between lanes, increasing the risk of hurting pedestrians or running into other vehicles.
  • 95% of drivers said texting while driving was an unsafe practice and yet 21% of drivers admit to doing it anyway.
  • Texting while driving increases the risk of an accident by 23.2 times the rate of an unimpaired driver.
  • In the moments leading up to a crash, drivers spend an average of five seconds looking at their mobile devices. At highway speeds, this covers more area than the length of a football field.
  • Drivers who are texting while driving have a slower response time than even drunk drivers.
  • Texting while driving is a generational issue: 37% of drivers ages 18 to 27 admit to texting while driving, compared to 14% of 28 to 44-year-olds and 2% of 45 to 60-year-olds.

Distractions affect drivers in many ways. Reaction time is slowed to the same slow reaction time of a legally drunk driver. Drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a serious automobile accident. For the safety of everyone on the road, please hold off on the distractions until you come to a complete stop or pull off to the side of the road. No life is ever worth losing over a phone call or text message.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of a driver who was texting while driving, please contact the Michael L. Morgan Law Group, P.A., at (941) 218-8220. We will work to obtain the best possible compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, future loss of income and pain and suffering. Please call to schedule a free initial consultation.