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How many of the automobile accidents can be attributed to text messaging or cell phone use by the driver?

David Reynolds

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles doesn’t track how many car crashes are caused by cell phone use or text messaging. At least, not for now.

DMV spokeswoman Marge Howell said that will likely change after the division’s traffic records section meets with law enforcement to consider updates to its crash reports. The section is beginning that process now, she said.

Currently, crash reports give traffic investigators a place to check distracted driving as a cause, but doesn’t provide a box specifically for cell phone use.

“Over the years as things have come up in traffic safety, they have been added to these reports,” Howell said. “We would expect that this will follow that path too.”

With the current forms, Wilmington police traffic investigators check the distracted-driving box whenever cell phone use is a factor in a crash, according to Lt. George Perkins. Then the investigator would write the specific cause in his or her description of the incident.

While Howell says cell phone use will likely become one of the boxes officers can check in their accident reports, the change, which will allow DMV to keep statistics on wrecks caused by drivers talking on cell phones, won’t come quickly.

The traffic records section is expected to take nine months or a year meeting with police agencies and considering improvements to the form, Howell said.

But after that, the computer system used to track the forms also will have to be updated, Howell said.

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2 Responses to “ How many of the automobile accidents can be attributed to text messaging or cell phone use by the driver?”

  1. On April 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm Bill Haughton wrote:

    Since we don’t have specific numbers for cell related distractions, can we get numbers for what percent of accidents involve driver distraction of any type ?

    The aggravating aspect of all the hullaballoo on making texting or talking on the phone illegal is downright silly: for years there have been laws about distracted driving, and you don’t have to have an accident to get a ticket. It just takes effort on the part of the police, and probably bravery on the part of their leadersip, to stand up to the cell phone companies, who hate to see any laws restricting access while driving, as that probably accounts for 1/3 to 1/2 of their revenue.

  2. On January 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm Noreen wrote:

    Texting is so much more distracting than talking on the phone – although I am NOT at all condoning cell calls. Texting requires one to spend several seconds fumbling to get the phone, look at the keypad, type responses, send their message, in addition to the reading of any text message(s) that the driver receives. All of these are actions that require the driver to take his eyes off the road and focus on the cell phone for several seconds, several times to complete their electronic conversation. It only takes a quick second for driving conditions to change – a far shorter time than to reply/send text messaging. Talking on the phone is distracting as well. I’ve seen folks actually talking on their cell phones while fumbling for something to write on and with, and then actually writing information on whatever paper they can find – while driving. Dontcha think a sensible driver would pull onto the side of the road for 30 seconds to do all that? Well, they don’t – I’ve seen this happen far too often. I believe a lot of accidents are caused by this technological distraction, and people need to be more responsible. After all, it is not only their lives they are playing with, it is anyone around them – in front of, in back of, next to.

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