Texting While Driving Tied to Surge in Fatal Accidents

Study estimates 16,000 traffic fatalities during 2001 to 2007 resulted from texting
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Texting on cell phones while driving appears to have contributed to a large increase in distracted driving fatalities since 2005, according to research published online Sept. 23 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Fernando A. Wilson, Ph.D., and Jim P. Stimpson, Ph.D., of the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, assembled data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for road fatalities in the United States. They analyzed trends in distracted driving fatalities, driver and crash characteristics, and cell phone usage and texting volumes.

The researchers found that fatalities from distracted driving increased from 4,572 fatalities in 2005 to 5,870 in 2008, a 28 percent surge. Moreover, the accidents increasingly involved males driving alone in urban areas colliding with roadside objects, a trend paralleling a period of increased texting volumes. The researchers estimated that texting while driving caused more than 16,000 additional distracted driving accident fatalities during 2001 to 2007.

"Distracted driving is a growing public safety hazard. Specifically, the dramatic rise in texting volume since 2005 appeared to be contributing to an alarming rise in distracted driving fatalities. Legislation enacting texting bans should be paired with effective enforcement to deter drivers from using cell phones while driving," the authors write.

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