Quickly becoming one of the most prevalent factors for causes of a car accident, distracted driving might be even more dangerous than it is being reported.
The under reporting of distracted driving has become a frequent mistake made by police officers and various other data collecting agencies. A study, partially funded by the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, found that in 2011, the most recent year for complete data, out of 32,000 traffic deaths, only 385 were listed as involving cell phones.
Janet Foestcher, the safety council’s president and CEO, says “we believe the number of crashes involving cellphone use is much greater than what is being reported. Many factors, from drivers not admitting cellphone use to a lack of consistency in crash reports being used to collect data at the scene, make it very challenging to determind an accurate number.”
The reason why this is such an issue is because of the way it affects change, or the lack there of. With lower numbers, the severity of distracted driving is reduced, and thus, the emphasis placed on limiting the issue is also reduced.
In 2010, teenager Kelsey Raffaele was killed while driving her vehicle. After clipping a snowbank, Raffaele’s car spun out of control into oncoming traffic, where an SUV smashed into the side of car. Her last text sent to a friend was “I’m going to crash!” Police never reported any cellphone use to be affiliated with the accident, just novice driving.
Raffaele’s mom has been testifying ever since trying to bring light to the issue believing that her daughter is “just one of thousands of other crashes that are not on the books… as being cell-phone (related).” She is part of the movement demanding states to have stricter laws and regulations regarding distracted driving and cell phones.
As of right now, not a single state bans cell-phone use for all drivers. 36 states do ban all cell-phone use by novice drivers and 39 states ban text messaging by all drivers. Recently, in an attempt to report more accurate information, states have adopted a model accident reporting form that has a box regarding cell-phone use for policemen to check. Nonetheless, the problem is far from being properly addressed.