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Distracted driving statistics may not be accurate

Texas residents may be interested to learn that the National Safety Council is pleading with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find a way to estimate the number of crashes that are related to distractions like cellphones. This plea is coming after the National Safety Council analyzed various data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the number of fatal accidents that are caused by distracted driving are significantly underreported in Texas and other states.

The number of fatal crashes associated with distractions such as cellphone use are underreported for a variety of reasons. First, individuals may be reluctant to inform the authorities that they were using a phone at the time of an accident because they fear that they may get in trouble with the law. Additionally, at least some of the fatal accidents involving cellphone use result in the death of the person who was using a phone, who is never able to communicate this information to the authorities or anyone else. The council's study also found that even when the drivers did admit to using phones during the accidents, police did not record this information in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database.

The National Safety Council also found significant variations among states associated with the number of fatal crashes that were reported as involving cellphone use. For example, Tennessee reported 93 fatal crashes involving cellphone use in 2011 while California reported just 22 fatal accidents and New York reported only one such accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it is aware of weaknesses in its data regarding distracted driving and that it is in the process of working with states and law enforcement agencies to develop better ways to get accurate information. Many states have started using model accident reporting forms that easily allow them to indicate when cellphones were involved in fatal car accidents.

Because authorities may not determine that a car accident was the result of a distracted driver's activity, people who are injured in car accidents may find it helpful to speak with personal injury attorneys in Texas. Attorneys may be able to conduct independent investigations to determine whether accidents were caused by distracted drivers.

Source: CBS News, "Study: Distracted driving deaths underreported", May 07, 2013