Distracted driving may be widely acknowledged as a serious problem, but there is no definitive database of the number of car accidents, injuries or fatalities caused by it, according to a report in The New York Times. The Times report talks about how cell phones can track one’s location, purchases or even Internet searches. But they are still not being used to track one of the biggest public safety threats in the U.S. — car accidents caused by drivers who are distracted by cell phones.
Lack of Data for Distracted Driving Accidents
The federal government and a number of state governments have recognized the dangers of cell phone use while driving, and have enacted laws to curb such dangerous behavior. However, there is no definitive database of the number of crashes, injuries or deaths caused by cell phone distraction. Safety experts say that current estimates of these incidents understate a problem that is getting worse by the day.
This lack of data is worrisome as we see a clear increase in car accidents, which were up 16% from 2020 to 2021, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2021, nearly 43,000 people died in crashes nationwide, which marks a 16-year high in traffic accident fatalities. During that year, only 377 fatal accidents (under 1%) listed cell phone distraction as a cause.
Why This is a Serious and Underreported Problem
About 8% of the 2.5 million nonfatal crashes in 2021 involved a cell phone, according to the highway agency’s data. But that does not include all cell phone distraction, but only crashes in which a police report specifically mentions such distraction. In fact, safety experts say, cell phone use goes unmentioned in police report because it usually relies on a motorist to admit he or she was distracted or on an eyewitness to mention it.
In very rare cases, cell phone records or phone forensics may point in the direction of distracted driving. While law enforcement officials can access cell phone records, the process can be cumbersome because of privacy laws, which require a subpoena. Moreover, further analysis is required to link a driver’s phone activity with the timing of the crash. Such analysis can be expensive, which is why police are reluctant to call for it in accident cases.
There are national studies such as one in 2022 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which found that about 20% of drivers admitted to regularly scrolling social media, reading email, playing games and watching/posting videos while behind the wheel. That data, published in The Journal of Safety Research found that 50% of drivers admitted to having engaged in phone-related distractions while driving in the last 30 days.
While phones are capable of connecting the time of a car crash and the way the driver was using the phone at the time, no one is actively looking for these “breadcrumbs,” safety experts say. One idea these experts suggest is using roadside cameras that identify drivers looking at their phones while driving. Such cameras are already in use to identify drivers who are speeding or driving recklessly.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
Injured victims of negligent (careless) drivers can seek compensation from at-fault parties for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc. Families that have lost loved ones in car accidents can seek compensation for damages such as lost future income, medical and funeral costs, pain and suffering, etc.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or pedestrian accident, or if you have lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a negligent (careless) driver, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
For over 52 years, our skilled accident attorneys have established a proven track record of helping injured victims get fair compensation for their losses. We recently recovered $5,600,000 for a bicyclist who was hit by a van, and $2,550,000 for another victim of a truck accident, and $3,000,000 for a pedestrian who was hit by a car, and $2,000,000 in a hit-and-run accident, and the full $1,000,000 insurance policy for a pedestrian who was hit by a truck, and $4,625,000 for a driver who was in a car and was hit by a van, and $2,500,000 for a man who fell through an improperly secured hole. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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