It seems drivers are constantly bombarded with reminders not to use their cellphones when behind the wheel, but current statistics show that some are still not listening. The 2014 edition of “Injury Facts,” an annual report assembled by the National Safety Council (NSC), shows that cellphone use by motorists was a factor in 26 percent of the nation’s car accidents in 2013, a slight increase from the previous year.
The greatest number of accidents was attributed to distracted driving due to talking on both hand-held and hands-free cellphones, while only 5 percent of crashes were blamed on texting.
Together with Texas A&M research institute’s “Voice-to-Text Driver Distraction Study,” the NSC report cautions drivers that talking can actually be more dangerous than texting while driving, and that using a talk-to-text feature is not an acceptable solution. Interestingly, the Texas A&M survey discovered that for most phone-related tasks, manual texting took slightly less time than did the talk-to-text method. However, both tasks affected driver performance nearly the same.
In the NSC report, tasks were rated on a cognitive distraction scale in relation to the effect they have on a driver’s mental workload. Talking on a hand-held phone while driving has a 2.45 workload, using a hands-free device while driving has a 2.27 workload rating, and using the talk-to-text application while driving carried a 3.06 workload rating.
As early as 2009, studies have been published, such as one in the Journal of Safety Research, that suggest hands-free cellphone use has become a driving force in cellphone related driving distractions, and that they serve as no less a distraction than hand-held phones.
Car Accident Statistics
Data collected on car accidents and fatalities caused by cellphone use is said to be under-reported because of drivers’ lack of willingness to confess to cellphone use, but according to NSC’s website, there were 245,358 car accidents involving cellphones in the first three months of this year.
Using data from 2011, NSC and Nationwide Insurance collaborated to report the most accurate number of cellphone-related car accident fatalities- 350 fatal crashes in 2011. The NSC goes on to report that the number of drivers observed manipulating hand-held devices increased from 2010 to 2011.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, twelve states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have made it illegal to use hand-held devices while driving, and forty-three states have banned texting and driving.