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Distracted Driving Data May be Incomplete

Distracted driving can lead to a fatal accident, but the numbers may not be revealing the entire truth about distracted driving.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, collecting good statistics on distracted driving is challenging and the numbers collected to date may not be telling the whole story. At the same time, officials at the National Traffic Safety Administration have stated that distracted driving is underreported.

The numbers show that distracted driving is a serious issue and may be a growing problem. According to records kept by the NTSA, 5,500 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2009 while 448,000 were injured. Nearly 1,000 of the fatalities were caused by drivers using a portable phone.

The number of distracted driving cases has seen an increase from 10 percent reported in 2005 to the current 16 percent reported in 2009. Deaths on U.S. roads are going down while at the same time the causes of deaths attributed to distracted driving is going up.

Some believe the statistics don't accurately reveal the increasing number of distractions that people face while operating a motor vehicle. Of the 200 accidents involving a distracted driver using a cell phone, only half were recorded in the government statistics. A spokesperson for the National Safety Council said that underreporting of distracted driving is a very big problem.

Once source of the underreporting has been suggested are police accident reports that fail to list the cause of an accident as distracted driving when distraction was involved. Many police agencies don't record the distraction and, for some, distracted driving does not enter accurately into their standard databases.

In order to better standardize accident data, safety officials are recommending new guidelines that will change how crash information is collected and reported.

Source: Detroit Free Press "Distracted driving numbers don't tell the whole story" Aaron Kessler, July 31, 2011

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