Underreporting of Cellphone Use While Driving

In this day and age, technology is pervasive. From devices that help with housework, to access to email and internet wherever you are, technology has been a benefit and has changed changed our everyday lives. It has certainly made information more available and convenient. However, technology also has its pitfalls. The use of smartphones have skyrocketed in the past several years and this has come with an increased problem of distracted driving. It has been such a big problem and contributing factor to accidents that many states have passed laws banning texting or talking on cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, the passage of these laws have not been enough to address this growing problem.

It wouldn’t take too long or too much work in order to find articles of tragic fatalities involving auto collisions and distracted drivers due to cell phone use or even statistics about these types of accidents. Often, the stories tell of how phone conversations are cut off or of phones found indicating a text was being written. The statistics on the frequency of these accidents have been growing, but, it is widely believed that these statistics are seriously underreported. Groups like the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believe that due to underreporting, the problem of distracted driving is a much bigger problem that numbers would tell and thus makes it more difficult to pass tougher laws. The main procedure to collect data on cell phone usage contributing to an accident is through reporting by a driver, passenger, or witness, concerning use during a crash. Police are usually required to get a subpoena in order to obtain cellphone records and thus a reluctance to admit behavior or lack of witnesses makes it difficult to obtain full information.

The problem of distracted driving is especially pervasive for new young drivers. For drivers who have just recently received their licenses and have little driving experience, the use of cell phones especially impair the main functions necessary to drive safely, including manual, visual and cognitive functions. To answer a call or send a text, drivers must remove one or both hands from the steering wheel, remove their eyes from the road, and can be mentally distracted, thus compromising awareness of the road and focus on driving. The NHTSA reports that the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is the under 20 age group, with 16% of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted. According to Pew survey, 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.

Distracted driving doesn’t simply put the driver and other persons in their car in danger; it also imposes a danger to other drivers and pedestrians. For example, in 2011, a Sonoma State University freshman was texting and driving when she slammed into two-year-old Calli Murry and her mother, Ling, at the corner of Snyder and Medical Center Drive. Calli was killed and Ling, badly injured. The accident shows how a minor distraction can have significant consequences. The use of hand-held devices makes drivers 4 times more likely to get into serious accidents.

The privilege and responsibility of driving is great. All drivers have a responsibility to themselves and their fellow citizens to respect the rules of the road and partake in safe driving procedures, including refraining from using hand-held devices while driving. Our bay area based law firm understands this responsibility and believes drivers should be held accountable when they fail to follow laws, imposing danger to the rest of society. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident due to distracted driving, we welcome you to contact our firm today for a free consultation. We look forward to working with you.

Sources:
Study Distracted Driving Deaths Underreported
Govenors Highway Safety
CDC: Distracted Driving