Distracted driving is more serious than we think it is. The National Safety Council recently conducted a study paid for in part by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. They discovered that fatal car crashes involving cell phones were underreported. They reviewed 180 car crashes from 2009 to 2011, all with strong evidence of cell phone usage. Only 50% of these cases were recorded in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) database.
Kept off the radar
Unless the driver mentions that they were using a cell phone at the time of the incident, the police are likely to not record it. The certain scenarios, police may be reluctant to ask, like if a driver admits to running a red light and hitting a pedestrian. Even when police do ask, drivers do not always admit or mention it.
Unfortunately, when fatal accidents occur, authorities lose the opportunity to find out whether a cell phone played a role in the accident. So, even if there are drivers who admit to using cell phones while driving, the data would still be underreported. To add to that, there is no system or equipment that can provide accurate or consistent data to verify the involvement of a cell phone in an accident.
Procedures equivalent to blood testing for drunk driving incidents has yet to be developed for distracted driving accidents. Coming up with standardized forms that have boxes that the drivers can check to correspond their answers to questions may help. However, it would be hard to know if the driver is being honest or not. This system, when finally designed, should be able to trace the time the cell phone was used. Police could then record the data and see if it matches with the time of the accident.
More importantly, people should understand that the data gathered at the crash scene is significant. The information is encoded and is then uploaded on NHTSA’s database. The record, which is classified as federal, is dependent on available resources. The majority of which is word-of-mouth, which is not 100% reliable, let alone measurable.
Never too late
When you're getting ready to go for a drive, please put your phone in silent mode and place it somewhere you can't see it. Odds are, you won't receive a phone call or text when you're driving short distances. However, if you do, simply looking at your phone for even a few seconds could result in a serious accident. This would change your life forever. It's also illegal for any driver to text while driving in Kentucky. If a cop sees you texting, they will pull you over and give you a ticket.
As a Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney, I highly suggest that you put away phones when you are driving. You are risking your life and other people's safety. No call or text is worth losing your life.