The unhealthy relationship between cell phones and drivers has been going on for a long time now, with the number of car accident deaths caused by cell phone continuing to grow each year. Unfortunately, the problems now extend beyond people simply talking on a cell phone and not paying attention, with many drivers also sending text messages or emails using their smartphones while driving. States have cracked down to try to prevent these dangerous behaviors, with more than 39 states in the U.S. imposing some kind of ban on texting while driving. Florida, however, had not yet passed a law banning texting statewide until now. After years of effort, the Miami Herald reports that a measure is moving forward to the governor and now awaits his signature.
Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys know that the Florida ban on texting and driving has met resistance from lawmakers in the past but it looks as though things may be different this year. As the governor considers whether to make texting illegal statewide, recent news stories have presented some more bad news related to cell phones and auto accidents.
Risk of Cell Phone Crashes May be Worse than Anticipated
The bad news surrounding cell phones comes from a recent study indicating that many accident reports neglect to mention that cell phone use played a role in causing the crash. The Washington Post cited researchers' claims that accident reports differ from state-to-state, resulting in inconsistent reporting on whether a cell phone was being used at the time of the accident. Further, accident reports are written by police who come to an accident scene and who make their own assessments about what occurred and how the crash happened. If witnesses and drivers don't tell the police that a cell phone was involved, the officer may have no way of knowing about the phone and thus it would not be included in the accident report.
After reviewing a total of 180 accident reports related to fatal collisions with potential cell-phone involvement, researchers indicated that only around 52 percent of the reports referenced the cell phone that was likely being used when the crash happened. Some states did better than others when it comes to reporting, while other locations such as Nevada reported no cell-phone related accidents, which seems very unlikely.
The data, therefore, indicated that cell phone use was being significantly underreported. Based on these findings, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that around 1/4 of all auto accidents are related to the use of a cell phone. This number is much higher than the NHTSA's figures, which attribute only 10 percent of total accidents in the U.S. to distracted driving and only around one percent of those crashes to cell phones. The NSC number was also rejected by the Governors Highway Association, which indicated that there was an absence of solid evidence to back up the NSC's claim and that the NHTSA data is likely more accurate.
Despite the competing opinions of GHSA and the NSC, however, everyone would agree that far too many people are being injured or killed due to the use of a cell phone behind the wheel. Making a change to Florida's texting and driving laws could help to prevent some of these unnecessary deaths.
If you've been hurt in a car accident, contact West Palm Beach Injury Attorney David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394.