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Study: Over Half of Car Crashes Involved Drivers Distracted by Cellphones

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 5, 2017
Car Crashes

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  The San Diego car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys are going to continue to bring about awareness to this serious public safety issue.  The current volume of car crashes caused by distracted driving is unfortunate.  Fortunately, the problem is such that people are studying this issue like never before.  The more we learn about distracted driving, the more we will understand how to avoid car crashes.  The most recent study on distracted driving may also be one of the most troubling.  It measured the percentage of drivers involved in car crashes who had been distracted by a cellphone at some point in their trip.  The results were not encouraging.  They should prompt anyone who sees them to take stock of their own driving habits.

About the Distracted Driving Car Crashes Study

Researchers at Cambridge Mobile Telematics, or CMT, completed the study.  CMT is a company that is geared towards making our roads safer by way of different technologies including apps that help to measure our driving performance.  The researchers tracked the data recorded by one of these apps that more than 100,000 drivers used.  The data involved driving trips over a period of 18 months.  The study uncovered the following information:

  • Distracted driving occurred at some point during 52 percent of trips that resulted in car crashes.
  • The average time that a driver was distracted in trips that resulted in a crash was 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
  • Cellphone distraction lasted for at least 2 minutes on 20 percent of trips where a driver was distracted.
  • 29 percent of these long cellphone distractions occurred at speeds of at least 56 miles per hour.
  • The 10 percent of drivers who were, on average, the most distracted were 2.3 times more likely to be involved in car crashes than the average driver.
  • The worst 10 percent of drivers were 5.8 times more likely to be involved in car crashes than the 10 percent of drivers who were the least distracted overall.

The analysis makes it clear that:

  • Motorists are still using cellphones at a high rate.
  • Drivers will use cellphones even when traveling at high speeds.
  • Using cellphones while driving seems to directly correlate with a higher incidence of car crashes.
  • Distracted driving remains an enormous problem in the United States.

Laws Restricting Cellphone Use – Do They Work?

The study went on to discuss the effectiveness of cellphone laws that exist around the United States.  Distracted driving and car crashes that result have been a major issue for several years now.  State legislatures have responded with laws that restrict the use of cellphones and handheld devices to varying degrees.  The researchers broke jurisdictions down into three categories based on the laws in place in those states.  Those categories include:

  1. Jurisdictions with laws against all use of handheld devices
  2. States with laws against the use of handheld devices for drivers under the age of 18
  3. Jurisdictions without any laws restricting the use of handheld devices while driving

The researchers then analyzed the amount of time that drivers in each of these jurisdictions spent distracted per 100 miles of driving.  They found the following:

  • Drivers in the most restrictive states were distracted for 3.17 minutes for every 100 miles driven.
  • Motorists in the second category of jurisdictions were distracted for 3.25 minutes for every 100 miles driven.
  • Drivers in states with no real restrictions were distracted for 3.82 minutes per 100 miles driven.

The study’s authors stated that the difference between the least restrictive jurisdictions and the most restrictive is ‘marginal.’  Numerically, drivers in states with the most restrictive laws were 20 percent less distracted in terms of time than those with the fewest handheld restrictions.  Those interested in reading the entire analysis can find it here.

United States Distracted Driving Statistics

As mentioned above, governments on all levels recognize the problem that is car crashes caused by distracted driving.  One of the reasons that they were motivated to pass laws restricting the use of cellphones and other handheld devices while driving was because of the statistics that reveal the massive scope of the problem.  For instance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or the NHTSA:

  • 3,477 people died in car crashes in the United States in 2015 that involved distracted driving.
  • 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes across the country that same year.
  • Approximately 660,000 motorists in the United States are using electronic devices while driving at any moment during daylight hours.

To put this into perspective, more people were injured in distracted driving crashes in the United States in 2015 than there are people in New Orleans, Louisiana.  At any given moment during the day, the number of motorists using an electronic device while driving exceeds the population of Boston, Massachusetts.  It seems beyond debate that distracted driving causes car crashes and that this is a problem that is getting worse instead of better.

The media is beginning to take notice of this problem as well.  Last fall, Fortune Magazine labeled distracted driving in the United States an “epidemic.”  Our firm has focused on this problem repeatedly, including:

We encourage visitors to review the information on the links provided.  In furtherance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we would all do well to know more about the types of distracted driving, including using cellphones, that exist as well as the harm distracted driving causes.

How San Diego Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

While we will continue to work to bring awareness to this issue, the unfortunate reality is that people are going to continue to drive while distracted and cause car crashes as a result.  If you or someone you love has been injured by a distracted driver, you need to do your part by holding those responsible for this harm accountable.  Contact the San Diego personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.


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