According to a report this year from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cell phones have a significant impact on traffic accidents and even deaths. According to the data in this report, cell phones use was related to the cause of accidents frequently. Among traffic deaths that were caused by distracted driving, cell phones were responsible for those distractions in 18 percent of cases.
During 2009, there were 5,474 people killed in accidents related to distracted driving. Of those incidents, 995 deaths were believed to have had a cell phone involved. In addition to these deaths, itâ€™s estimated that 448,000 people were injured in accidents related to distracted driving.
Not just the kids
You might assume that all of these traffic fatalities due to cell phone use were because of teeny-boppers and their crazy texting habits. Believe it or not, however, the group who experienced the largest percentage of these accidents were actually adults in the 30 to 39 year-old range. (Teenagers were the second largest percentage, coming in just behind the thirty-somethings.)
Motorcycles and cell phones donâ€™t mix
Another thoroughly interesting aspect of this data was the information regarding motorcycles. Motorcycles make up of only two percent of the registered vehicles in the country. However, six percent of all the cell phone-related distracted driving fatalities involved a motorcycle.
Of course, data wasnâ€™t available regarding which party was using the cell phone. It isnâ€™t likely that the vast majority of motorcyclists are out there using cell phones. Itâ€™s much more likely that cell phone use by passenger vehicle drivers causes them to be less attentive, making it more likely that they will miss seeing a smaller vehicle (like a motorcycle) while theyâ€™re talking on the phone. Someone whoâ€™s paying attention to their phone is likely to miss a motorcycle nearby, resulting in an accident.
Because of the NHTSA report, the U.S. Department of Transportation is mulling over the possibility of banning the use of cell phones in vehicles from coast to coast. This kind of move could be a hard sell, however, as both consumers and special interest groups are likely to fight the move. Add in the fact that many states already have specific distracted driving laws in place that relate to cell phone use, and itâ€™s not entirely clear if a federal mandate is really necessary, or even effective. Regardless, the report shows just how serious a problem that cell phone use can be while driving.