25% of US car accidents due to using gadgets

July 12, 2011
Distracted Driving

Distracted driving (credit: GHSA/State Farm)

Driving distractions such as cell phones and other electronic devices cause as much as 25% of all U.S. car accidents, researchers at the Governors Highway Safety Association have found, WinBETA notes.

A major finding was that being distracted was the cause of 15 to 25% of all accidents, ranging from minor property damage to death.

Their findings suggest that distracted driving accidents be reported in accident reports to assist in evaluating distracted driving laws and programs. They propose creating low-cost roadway measures that alert motorists when they are drifting out of their driving lane.

They also propose that all cell phones be banned on the road, even hands-free versions.

In another report by The New York Times, police in Syracuse and Hartford have handed out nearly 20,000 tickets for illegal use of a phone while driving — either for texting or use of a handheld phone.

According to the federal government, these efforts have had the desired effect: distracted driving has fallen sharply. Their research shows that drivers talking on a phone are four times as likely to get into a crash as those not on a phone, and that the risks for motorists who text are at least twice as high. In Syracuse, handheld cellphone use and texting have each fallen by one-third. In Hartford, handheld cellphone use by drivers fell 57 percent while texting fell by 75 percent, the Times reports.

Ref.: Vicki Harper. et al., Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, GHSA, 2011