Study finds text messaging responsible for most distracted driving accidents; cell phone ban may reduce risk of some Chicago car accidents

The Chicago Tribune reported that the University of North Texas is claiming that 16,141 people were killed in car accidents caused by text messaging while driving in the five years between 2002 and 2007.

Our Chicago accident lawyers frequently report on the dangers of distracted driving, and particularly text messaging while driving. However, there is rarely an effort to put a concrete number on the danger, primarily because of a lack of reporting standards at the state and local level.In this study, the university used the federal government’s Fatal Accident Reporting System and texting records from several sources within the wireless telecom industry. Without texting, researchers calculated there would have been 1,925 deaths due to distracted driving. However, text messaging led to a skyrocketing rate that reached 5,988 in 2007.

A law banning the use of cell phones in Chicago has likely led to a reduction in serious and fatal Chicago car accidents. The State of Illinois banned text messaging by drivers at the start of this year.

Among the findings of the report:

-The percentage of traffic deaths caused by distracted driving increased from 11 percent in 1999 to 16 percent in 2008.

-Cities and other urban areas are more prone to distracted driving accidents.

-The last decade has seen an explosion in the popularity of cell phones. One-third of U.S. residents had cell phones in 1999. By 2008, 91 percent of us had them.

-The popularity of text messaging has also skyrocketed, from 1 million texts a month in 2002 to 110 million a month in 2008.

The 6 percent of drivers using a cell phone at any given time has not changed since 2005, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Apparently, what has changed is how we use them.

The study suggests criminal charges and citations for texting while driving and the routine use of cell phone records in accident investigations could help reduce the trend.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

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