Responding to an alarming increase in drivers’ distracting use of cellphones, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently concluded that states should act to ban almost all use of cellphones while driving.
The NTSB cited a dramatic 2010 fatal accident near Gray Summit, Missouri, in which a nineteen-year-old pickup driver, distracted by texting, started a pileup involving his vehicle, a tractor trailer and two school buses. In the truck accident, the pickup driver and a student died while dozens of others were injured. Investigators found that the pickup driver had received six text messages and sent five during the eleven minutes just before he slammed at full highway speed into the back of the semi-truck, which slowed for a construction zone.
For some time Missouri has had a law in place forbidding drivers under twenty-one from texting. The young pickup driver who caused the Gray Summit accident was in violation of Missouri law. On January 1, 2012, neighboring Kansas started issuing $60 fines for texting while driving regardless of age.
Cellphone Use in Vehicles Increasing
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that at any given time during the day, over thirteen million drivers are using hand-held devices. That figure has increased dramatically over previous years. Last year across the country, at least 3,000 accidents involved distracted drivers. In 2010, 21 fatal accident and 558 car accidents were attributed to drivers distracted by their cellphones, according to the Kansas City Star.
The NTSB’s latest report expands on its previous recommendations to limit cell phone use by new and commercial drivers. It wants a ban on the use of hands-free phones as well as hand-held ones, for all drivers. The only exceptions would be emergency use and use of factory-installed devices hard-wired into a vehicle.
States continue to restrict the use of cellphones in vehicles and continue safety education efforts. However, driver distraction is a problem that will be difficult or impossible to eliminate.
For those injured in traffic accidents caused by distracted drivers an experienced personal injury attorney can help. A personal injury attorney will make sure that distracted drivers are held accountable and that victims are adequately compensated for injuries.
Source: The Kansas City Star, Fatal pileup triggers new look at cellphone use in cars,” Rick Montgomery, Dec. 13, 2011