A peek into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System may shed light on how pervasive distracted driving is in the U.S. As we discussed on this blog in March, a survey of typical American motorists by the Centers for Disease Control found that nearly 1 in 3 drivers reported talking on cellphones or texting while driving, and that the activity significantly impaired their reaction times.
Yet the rate of traffic fatalities in the U.S. overall has been down. Could it be that distracted driving is responsible for a growing share of fatal motor vehicle accidents?
It may well be. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center recently analyzed data on fatalities caused by another driver’s distraction between 2005 and 2010, as reported to NHTSA’s FARS database, and their report was just published in the latest issue of the journal Public Health Reports. NHTSA’s data is from police reports, so the researchers could only count those accidents in which an investigator was able to identify driver distraction as the cause of the accident.