NHTSA Report: Cell Phone Distraction Involved In Less Than 1% Of US Fatal Crashes
From some of the hysteria, and fierce public service campaigns, targeting cell phone use while driving would make you think that it was some sort of an epidemic. In fact, that’s the very word public officials are using. Just today President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called cell phone use while driving a “national epidemic.”
But is it really? Not according to the numbers. Not only have overall traffic accident and fatality rates been declining in America, even as there has been an increase in the number of electronic distractions in the car, but the number of accidents that can be attributed to cell phone use are less than 1% of all accidents nationally:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a new study on distracted driving [PDF]. According to the agency, 9 percent of total fatal crashes in 2010 (2,843 of 30,196) were “distraction-affected” (D-A). This does not mean that the distracted driver was at fault; rather, it means that a driver involved in a crash reported to the police that they were distracted in some way. Of the D-A fatal crashes, 12 percent involved a cell phone distraction. Of total fatal crashes, cell phone distraction affected barely 1 percent.
Just to put that into perspective, daydreaming while driving accounts for 1.9% of fatal crashes.
The “distracted driving” campaigns are the worst sort of there-oughta-be-a-law, fad legislating. The first step in making laws is determining whether or not there is a problem – there clearly isn’t in this case – and determining whether or not a new laws would actually make a difference. Which, as we’re learning, they don’t.
States and cities across the nation who have passed distracted driving laws, or some level of restriction on cell phone use while driving, are seeing no changes at all in the safety of their roads. Probably because distracted driving from cell phone use, as the statistics above attest to, was never a problem in the first place.Tags: big government, distracted driving, nanny statism