The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group, says that auto crashes involving cellphones are vastly underreported. Its findings are based on an analysis of 180 reports of traffic crashes that involved cellphone use. Just over half of the crashes were coded in national data as involving cellphones, the council said in a news release.
People talking on cell phones or texting are more likely to cause distracted driving accidents. More than 420,000 people were injured and 3,328 people killed in vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If the National Safety Council is correct, the number of injuries and deaths is actually much higher.
Janet Froetscher, CEO of the National Safety Council, said distracted driving accidents are underreported for a number of reasons including:
- The failure of drivers to admit their cellphone use
- Inconsistencies in crash reports
- Differences in reporting crashes related to cellphone use from state to state.
There are many well-publicized examples of accidents caused by drivers on cellphones. ABC News reported that a trucker in Arizona was looking at photos of women on Facebook when he crashed into parked emergency vehicles on a highway, killing a public safety officer. The accident occurred despite onboard video monitoring and strict rules against cellphone use while driving. The driver faces criminal charges and may eventually face a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of those killed, seeking compensation for the loss of a loved one.
An estimated 660,000 drivers are talking on cell phones or while driving at any given daylight moment in the U.S.
The state of Virginia does not prohibit all drivers from talking on cellphones, using voice-activated apps, or manipulating electronics while driving. The state bans all drivers from texting while driving, and it prohibits school bus drivers and novice drivers from using handheld or hands-free cellphones.
However, anyone who has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver has a right to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.