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Cellphone-related crashes continue to rise

Texting and driving is a growing concern in the eyes of the public as more and more teenagers -- and even adults -- become victims of car accidents caused by this distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2009 alone 5,474 individuals were killed and 448,000 sustained an injury from a distracted driving car accident. With an increase in the number of people owning cellphones, and especially in the number of people owning smartphones, one could imagine that these numbers may only be increasing in California as well as across the nation.

A survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that, nationally, 69 percent of drivers admitted to having talked on their cellphones while driving within the 30 days of taking the survey. Additionally, 24 percent admitted to having texted or emailed while driving. The National Safety Council reports that drivers who are distracted by their cellphones continue to look at the road, but only see 50 percent of their driving environment. So even those who believe they can multitask behind the wheel may not actually be registering everything that's going on around them.

It isn't hard to believe that the use of cellphones would drive up the rate of distracted driving car accidents. Yet, it isn't only the people who are using their cellphones that are in danger in these situations. Every other driver on the road is affected when someone isn't giving their full attention to the road.

A car accident can be dangerous enough for California drivers and pedestrians involved, yet the National Transportation Safety Board finds that some of the worst distracted driving accidents aren't caused by the average drivers. Large vehicles such as buses, tractor-trailers, and even boats and trains are known to be involved in accidents when their operators are distracted by cellphones. Compared to the average car, these vehicles are capable of much more significant damage due to often increased weight and speed, which can injure or even kill more individuals in one accident. Hopefully these statistics will encourage drivers to wait until they've reached their destinations in order to make a call or send a text.

Source: The Washington Post, "N.Va. police: Accidents caused by cellphones have increased," Ashley Halsey III, April 25, 2012

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