Last week we wrote about how the spread of smartphone use and smartphone application use is starting to contribute to the number of distracted driving car accidents. While we all know that distracted driving is a major cause of car crashes in Florida, the true extent of the distracted driving problem is unknown. Accurate distracted driving figures are currently hard to come by and traffic safety officials believe the number of distracted driving accidents is probably underreported.
Even though the collection of accurate information is difficult, distracted driving is on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 5,400 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2009 and among those accidents almost 1,000 were related to cell phone use. In addition, as the number of highway fatalities decrease in the United States the percentage of distracted driving fatalities increases. In 2005, distracted driving accounted for 10 percent of highway fatalities and in 2009 distracted driving accounted for 16 percent.
As distracted driving accidents trend upwards, the available statistics are probably only the tip of the iceberg. Data collection for car accidents begins with police reports, and police reports are entered into large federal databases where private analysts, university analysts and agency analysts use the information to develop policy. Police reports differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and the depth of an investigation may depend on the seriousness of the accident. Therefore there is a range in distracted driving accident information from no record to records that are overly detailed that are hard to standardize for database purposes.
The lack of uniform police reports results in poor information on distracted driving. Guidelines exist to help standardize crash information, but the guidelines are only voluntary, not supported by many car accident lawyers in Melville. Either way, we know distracted driving is dangerous and motorists should use their phones when not behind the wheel.