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Cell Phone Use Under Reported in Car Accidents, Causing Drivers to Underestimate Safety Threat

Making the road safer for drivers and pedestrians alike remains a primary concern for lawmakers and first responders in the United States, but unlike seat belts, child car seats, and drunk driving, the mission to curb distracted driving due to cell phone use is difficult to enforce. The Washington Post reports that 28% of accidents are caused at least in part by talking or texting on a cell phone. However, according to a new infographic published by the National Safety Council, the actual data is more than likely much higher than the official report. The National Safety Council argues that cell phone use in fatal accidents is grossly under reported.

Officially, there were 350 fatal car accidents involving cell phone use in 2011. While 350 incidents may appear rather insignificant relative to a country of 317 million people, the National Safety Council believes that the absence of data regarding cell phone use poses a threat to public safety. When data is skewed or under reported, it causes the risk to appear less substantial than it may actually be, minimizing the impact on the decisions of the driver.

Of course, the simple solution to this issue would be to record more accurate data at the scene of an accident, but obtaining the data is much more complicated than checking if a passenger was wearing their seat belt, or if a child was properly secured in a car seat. While first responders and law enforcement officials can definitively determine if a driver was operating under the influence by administering a blood alcohol test, there is no reliable test that can prove a driver was using his or her cell phone. Jennifer Smith, president of FocusDriven suggests that “using a subpoena to get cellphone records has got to be a standard procedure,” but even cell phone records cannot discern if a driver was looking at a message or email, only that he or she had received it.

Because of the difficulty faced in obtaining the data after an accident, the most promising solution may lie in preventing distracted driving before the accidents even happen. The Washington Post quotes Chuck Hurley, executive director of MADD explaining, “Education alone is a proven failure. Education and enforcement are a success.” He suggests passing stricter, more enforceable laws that allow police officers to cite a driver for any cell phone use whatsoever, instead of the current laws in many states, which limit phone use to GPS navigation or dialing a number.

Distracted driving remains a serious threat to public safety, killing and injuring tens of thousands of people a year. Car accidents can happen at any time, and if you or a loved one has been injured as result of a negligent driver using his or her cell phone, we can help. At the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, our experienced team of Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys have successfully handled thousands of car accident injury cases, including accidents involving cell phone use. While no amount of money will ever compensate for your injuries, victims of personal injury and their families may be entitled to financial relief through a Personal Injury or a Wrongful Death Lawsuit. Distracted driving cases can be difficult and confusing to navigate on top of injuries and medical expenses, but our dedicated attorneys will carefully walk you through each step of the process. You can breathe easy knowing that our attorneys have decades of experience dealing with personal injury cases, and you will receive individual attention from one of our senior partners. We are happy to answer any questions you may have, and get you the compensation you deserve.

At the law offices of Altman & Altman, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – including nights and weekends to answer any questions regarding your case. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

Sources:
Halsey, Ashley III. Washington Post. “28 Percent of Accidents Involve Talking, Texting on Cellphones”
National Safety Council. “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data.” http://www.nsc.org/ safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/Cell-Phone-Crash-Data.aspx