According to the National Safety Council (NSC), fatal car crashes that involved cell phones may be underreported or inconsistently reported. NSC reviewed national statistics on 180 fatal car crashes from 2009 to 2011 and found that only 52% of the crashes in 2011 were coded in the national data as involving cell phone use. Now, let's talk about the challenges of reporting cell phone use in fatal car crashes, and why it may not be reported accurately.
Why is cell phone use so hard to report?
Cell phones can be hard to see. Meaning, it can be hard for police to determine if a person is using their cell phone illegally, like texting while driving, or if they are simply looking down. There are five main reasons why reporting a cell phone-related accident is so difficult. They include:
- Drivers over 18-years-old may use their cell phone to dial a phone number and use the GPS function. In Kentucky, a driver over the age of 18 may use their phone to dial a number or use the GPS function on their phone. This means, if a police officer pulls a driver who they believed was texting while driving, which is illegal for all ages, the driver could claim that they were dialing a number.
- No scientific test to determine cell phone usage. When alcohol is a driver distraction, there’s the sobriety test. Police can also check alcohol levels in the blood. The same rings true for drugs. However, there’s no way to test if a cell phone caused the accident or not.
- Cell phone records are hard to uncover. Obtaining cell phone records takes time. While this could be the proof that everyone’s looking for, it’s difficult to determine whether the driver was distracted at the time of the accident. Also, data could be erased at any time without a trace.
- Drivers hurt badly or deceased. Drivers are the ones who know whether or not their cell phone use had something to do with the car crash. Unfortunately, if the driver was injured or worse, killed in the accident, they may not be able to provide a testimony.
- Inconsistent statements from witnesses. While investigators can conduct interviews to onlookers on the scene of the accident, there is no guarantee that the data they gather was true to what actually occurred. Stories vary. Also, a person can only remember so much.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I'd like to remind everyone to not use a cell phone while driving. It’s never a good idea. We might not realize how bad distracted driving can get until we experience the consequences ourselves, but, the thing is, we have a choice. Let's focus on road safety and eliminate distracted driving.