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Distracted Driving Fatalities Remain at Epidemic Levels

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On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Distracted Driving Fatalities Remain at Epidemic Levels

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), although the number of traffic fatalities resulting from talking or texting on mobile phones fell 6% from the previous year, the number of crashes that occur as a direct result of distracted drivers continues to climb t an astonishing rate. The number of traffic fatalities related to driving while distracted by talking on a cellular phone, texting, or eating caused 16% of all fatal accidents, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Crashes linked to drivers being distracted behind the wheel caused 5,474 deaths in the year 2009, down from 5,838 a year earlier and accounting for 16 percent of all road fatalities in 2009, unchanged from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “These numbers show that distracted driving remains an epidemic in America, and they are just the tip of the iceberg,” LaHood said in an e-mailed statement.

Many researchers feel that the official statistics underestimate the actual number of accidents caused by distracted driving, according to LaHood’s statement in a recent Automotive News article. In many states the statistics reported by police fail to document inattention as a primary cause of auto accidents. Some of the many reasons that drivers can lose focus are by talking on and texting on cellular phones and other devices, such as ipods and portable computers. Other activities that can commonly cause distractions while driving include eating, talking, and personal grooming.

"Drivers in their 20s are the most likely to be involved in a fatal crash tied to distractions, according to the statement. For mobile phones in particular, the 30- to 39-year-old group had the highest involvement," according to Automotive News.

NHTSA statistics indicate that distracted driving accidents resulting in deaths have increased to 16% from 10% in the year 2005.

In January the National Highway Safety Counsel discovered that 1.4 million crashes occur each year as a result of drivers using cellular phones, and at least 200,000 are added to the statistics when drivers who are texting are considered.

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