LaHood Says Distracted Driving is an Epidemic

Advances in technology often result in increased for consumers and increases in productivity for businesses. Technological innovation can also increase distraction. The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration released numbers showing that distracted driving accounted for 16 percent of all road fatalities in 2009, unchanged from 2008. In 2005, however, 10 percent of all road fatalities were related to distracted driving.

United States Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood said that researchers believe the latest government statistics may not reflect the true numbers. Many states do not list inattention as a cause in car accident investigations. LaHood said that the government statistics are “just the tip of the iceberg.” Distracted driving includes activities such as using a cell phone or personal computer, eating, talking, reading and grooming while behind the wheel.

The latest government statistic show that 5,474 people died in 2009 in the country due to a distracted driver. That is down from 5,838 in 2008. LaHood said in a written statement that “distracted driving remains an epidemic in America.

Distracted driving is most prevalent with younger drivers. People in their twenties are at the highest risk of being involved in a fatal crash due to distracted driving, according to the latest statistics. People in their thirties had the highest number of road fatalities in 2009 related to cell phone use.

The National Safety Council, a non-profit safety group, released a study in January. That study indicated that 1.4 million car accidents occur each year due to talking on a phone while behind the wheel. More than 200,000 car accidents result from texting while driving.

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