National Safety Council report says cell phone use is an even bigger factor in car accidents than previously reported
A new report just issued from the National Safety Council shows a more direct link between the dangers of using a cell phone while driving and car accidents.
For lawyers like myself, it shows just how important it is for an attorney to uncover in any serious auto accident or case involving fatalities, whether the crash really does involve cell phones and distracted driving. Currently, the police in Michigan almost never investigate whether a driver who causes a serious auto accident crash or death was using a cell phone. Hopefully this new study will change that.
Injury attorneys also rarely do investigations into whether the defendant driver was using a cell phone, but for a different reason. In Michigan, injury attorneys are not investigating cell phone use is because Michigan is one of only a handful of states without punitive or exemplary damages, which means in most instances involving an individual defendant driver, it will not be admissible as evidence if the defendant at trial admits negligence.
Back to the study, researchers reviewed 180 fatal crashes over a three-year period where there was evidence that the driver was using a cell phone.
The council estimated that one-quarter of all crashes involved cell phone use.
The National Safety Council found that even when drivers said they were using their cell phones at the time of a car accident, that admission wasn’t recorded in accident reports and police reports that were compiled for use in the national debate on distracted driving, according to a story in The Washington Post, Report: Cellphones cause far more crashes than recorded.
Janet Froetscher, the National Safety Council president, attributed the inaccurate reporting to many factors, including drivers not admitting cell phone use and a lack of consistency in police crash reports.
The ramifications of underreporting just how many people are actually killed in crashes involving cell phones are serious. These statistics influence legislation. It also undermines safety campaigns and media attention from just how dangerous distracted driving caused by cell phone use and texting really is.
In Michigan, teens are banned from using cell phones behind the wheel. And throughout the country, truckers are also now banned from using cell phones. I’m pleased to see this, and I know the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Litigation Group, of which I’m past president, pushed hard for this.
This is a good start, but I believe this ban needs to go further. If indeed cell phones are a cause in one out of four crashes, then the answer is clear: the ban should apply to all drivers. In 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a ban on all cell phone use while driving, but it never came to fruition.
It is a shocking statistic: one in four people in car accidents were likely using their cell phones. Tell your friends and families.
And put that cell phone down the next time you get behind the wheel.