Fatal Car Crashes Caused by Cell Phone Use: How High ARE the Numbers?

If you are wondering how many people suffer fatal car crashes caused by cell phone use each year, or if an increase in driver cell phone use has caused a jump in fatal auto accidents, you won’t find an accurate answer.  No one knows. Various factors, including drivers not admitting cell phone use, make collecting and reporting the data a challenge.

Still, there is no doubt that the distraction of talking on a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving is a serious problem and can be deadly. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, cell phone use is one of the major causes of distracted driving traffic accidents and fatalities. It can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

TxDOT reported 3,147 crashes, including 40 fatalities, attributed to cell phone use in 2011. However, those numbers may actually be much higher.

Study Shows Fatal Car Crashes Involving Cell Phones Greatly Unreported

A study recently released by the National Safety Council (NSC) found that the number of fatal car crashes caused by cell phone use is likely much higher than reported in national data. Funded in part by the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, “Crashes Involving Cell Phones: Challenges of Collecting and Reporting Reliable Crash Data” looked at data for 180 fatal car crashes from 2009 to 2011 where evidence indicated driver cell phone use. Of those in 2011, only 52% were recorded in national data as involving cell phone use.

Is an Increase in Traffic Fatalities Due to Increase in Cell Phone Usage?

Consider the following data:

  • A 2011 National Occupant Protection Use Survey found that at any given daylight moment, 660,000 drivers were using cell phones or electronic devices while driving.
  • In 2012, 87 percent of American adults owned a cell phone, up from 83 percent in 2011. A four percent increase doesn’t sound like much until you consider there are about 240 million adults in the U.S.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s statistical projection, an estimated 34,080 people died in car crashes in 2012, compared to 32,367 the previous year.  This was the first year-to-year increase in traffic fatalities since 2005.
  • The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates 25% of all crashes involve cell phone use. Based on estimates, that would mean 8,520 people died in car crashes caused by driver cell phone use last year, 429 more than in 2011.

Auto Accident Attorney Prepared to Help

Despite warnings that using cell phones and texting while driving can lead to fatal auto accidents, people continue to do so, putting lives at risk. If you suffered serious injury or lost a loved one in a fatal car crash caused by a distracted driver, an experienced car accident lawyer at The Callahan Law Firm is prepared to investigate. Contact our firm now for a free case evaluation.