Crashes reveal drivers are still hung up on their cellphones

As you sit at a red light and watch car after car turn in front of you, how many of the drivers do you expect to be holding a phone to their ear?

A new federal study says that at least one in 20 drivers is talking on a cellphone at any given moment, and that nearly one in 100 are texting. That adds up to 13.5 million motorists using a digital handheld device at any given moment. Not surprisingly, distracted drivers may be responsible for nearly one in 10 fatal car accidents last year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,092 traffic deaths last year may have involved distracted drivers, and the number may actually be higher than that. Distracted drivers are not always noticed, particularly if there are no witnesses.

Authorities say they are narrowing the focus in the measurement of fatalities due to distracted driving. They say they will more narrowly focus on crashes in which drivers were very likely distracted, as opposed to simply “careless” driving.

Despite laws banning cellphone use and texting while driving, officials worry the problem is getting worse, not better, according to a CNN article. By May of this year, eight states had banned talking on a handheld phone while driving, and 32 states had banned texting while driving.

Some say even better education regarding the dangers of cellphone use while driving is necessary. What do you think? What else can be done about the problem?

Source: CNN, “Millions of drivers won’t hang up, study says,” Mike M. Ahlers, Dec. 8, 2011