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Are Phone-Related Distracted Driving Accident Fatalities Underreported?

Trusted Content
Legally reviewed by:
Erik Abrahamson
May 23, 2013

distracted driving with phoneAccording to a new study by an advocacy group, the National Safety Council, the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents are significantly underreported.

This underreporting can create less incentive for lawmakers to take cell phone use seriously since the number of reported fatalities is likely well below the true number.

Information about the Distracted Driving Accident Study

Researchers reviewed 180 fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred from 2009 to 2011. These accidents all involved one or more fatalities. The organization independently determined that these accidents involved the use of a cell phone because the driver admitted it, another caller confirmed the communication, and a passenger reported the driver’s use of the device or police discovered an unfinished text message on a phone near the crash site.

Comparing the Findings to a Database

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains a Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is a national database that tracks fatal motor vehicle accidents. When researchers from the National Safety Council compared their findings with the NHTSA’s data, they found that the national database reported far fewer of these accidents involved cell phone use.

According to the database, only 52 percent of the crashes that occurred in 2011 were related to cell phone use, 35 percent of the crashes in 2010 were reported as involving a cell phone and only 8 percent of crashes in 2009 indicated cell phone use as a contributing factor.

Lack of Consistent Standards

According to the safety council’s findings, only about half of the accidents were coded as distracted driving in the FARS database when drivers reported that they were using a cell phone during a crash.

This may be due in part to the fact that reporting standards often vary from state to state and city to city. The report also found that there were large variations in the number of automotive crashes that were attributed to cell phone use throughout different states.

Additionally, the National Safety Council’s president stated that there is a “significant disparity” between how law enforcement agencies report distracted driving in one jurisdiction to the next.

Call Now and Put the Experienced Tampa Car Accident Lawyers of Abrahamson & Uiterwyk to Work for You!

Due to the lack of consistency and the likely underreporting of distracted driving accidents, a car accident victim or his or her family may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney in Tampa. An attorney may be able to conduct his or her own investigation into the cause of the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an automotive accident, call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today at 1-800-538-4878 for a free consultation.

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