Deadly Distraction

Steve Henn Sep 24, 2010

One out of every six fatal traffic accidents in 2008 was caused by a distracted driver according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. For every million new cell phone subscribers correlated to a 19 percent increase in distracted driving fatalities.

“Our results suggested that recent and rapid increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of additional road fatalities in the United States,” wrote the authors Fernando Wilson and Jim Stimpson of the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

The researchers found that in 2008 alone 5,870 people died in accidents attributed to distracted driving, and more than 16,000 fatalities were killed since 2001

“Distracted deaths as a share of all road fatalities increased from 10.9 percent to 15.8 percent from 1999 to 2008, and much of the increase occurred after 2005,” they wrote.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is still the leading cause of death on American roadways. Alcohol related accidents cause roughly one in every three highway deaths, more than 11,000 deaths in 2008. However, this report suggest distracted driving is closing the gap, and texting and talking on cell phone is likely the fastest growing cause of roadway fatalities.

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