National Estimates on Distracted Driving Are Far Too Low

November 15th, 2017 by Attorney John Colvin

Using Phone While Driving

The number of serious injuries on Tennessee highways is on the rise, according to a survey by the Tennessee Highway Safety Improvement Program. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of serious injuries rose substantially, from 6,275 to 7,008.

This increase mirrors national traffic fatality data. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 37,461 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2016. This is a hefty 14.4% increase over previous years.

Why are these increases happening in Tennessee and across the nation?

Some experts believe that the increase may be due to the much greater use of smart phones and other electronic devices behind the wheel. Unfortunately, NHTSA traffic death data does not include distracted driving or cell phone use as a cause of death. But if we look closely at the data, there are clues that cell phones could be causing more distracted driving fatalities.

Big Spike in the Use of Smart Phones

It is clear that the use of smart phones has soared. It is estimated that 81% of Americans use an iPhone or Android phone every day. This is a 6% increase between 2014 and 2016. A Pew Research survey states that 68% of Americans have a smart phone today, which is a 33% increase from 2011.

It is not just that more people are using phones; how they use them has shifted. Most people do not talk on the phone while driving anymore, but it is very common for drivers to text, check Facebook and Twitter while barreling down the road. The issue is that driving and fiddling with a cell phone do not mix well. Drivers are diverting their attention from driving, and this is likely increasing serious car accidents.

Plus, the biggest spike in deaths and personal injuries on American roads in recent years is for bikers, pedestrians and motorcyclists. Each of these has a much smaller profile than a car, truck or SUV. They are easy to miss if you are, for example, texting and driving. Consider – 5,987 pedestrians were killed in car accidents in 2016 – a 22% increase from 2015.

But NHTSA data culled from 2015 shows a mere 448 deaths related to smart phone use – just 1.4% of traffic fatalities. It is believed, however, that smart phones could be a much bigger cause of deaths and injuries.

A close look at the NHTSA data reveals something interesting: At least 50% of the accidents had the driver going straight down the road, with no turns, bad weather or traffic. Why would someone get in an accident in this scenario? Distraction is a very possible answer. Also, drivers in deadly crashes were often striking pedestrians and bikers, which are small and easy to overlook… if you are distracted by a cell phone.

Looking at NHTSA data suggests that many serious accidents causing injury and death are due to cell phone use. All drivers should remember that it is illegal in most states today to use a cell phone while driving. Their use can cause serious accidents that can put you in jail. Hurting someone while driving distracted also can put you on the hook for hundreds of thousand or even millions of dollars in damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Hurt By a Distracted Driver? Contact Personal Injury Attorney John R. Colvin Today

John R. Colvin has been assisting people in Tennessee car accident lawsuits for more than two decades. If you have questions about an accident case, please contact John at (877) 594-8956, or submit a query on our online form. Put John R. Colvin’s bold and client-focused approach to work to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama