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Texting and driving kills thousands say researchers  (Source: Reuters)
How many people are killed driving while stupid? I'd like to see that study.

There have been numerous studies that have sought to correlate texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving with an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities. There have been several studies that claim to find the link between texting and an increased chance of accidents and those studies have resulted in bans on texting and driving and talking and driving in some states.

A new scientific study conducted by Fernando Wilson and Jim Stimpson of the University of North Texas Health Science Center has used accident reports obtained from the NHTSA and information on cell phone ownership and data on text message volume from the FCC to create an estimate of how many people are killed by talking or texting on cell phones. According to Wilson and Stimpson, as many as 16,000 people from 2001 to 2007 were killed on the nation's highways directly by texting or talking and driving.

The pair of researchers wrote in the American journal of Public Health, "Our results suggested that recent and rapid increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of additional road fatalities in the United States." Wilson told Reuters in a telephone interview, "Since roughly 2001-2002, texting volumes have increased by several hundred percent. Since 2001 our model predicts that about 16,000 people have died since then that we attribute to the increase in texting volume in the United States."

The pair of researchers estimate that with every million new cell phone subscribers the number of deaths caused by distracted driving rise 19%. The pair wrote in their report that in 2008, about 1 in 6 fatal vehicle collisions resulted from distracted driving. The exact number is 5,870 people. Wilson admits that the only way to curb texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving is to have better enforcement methods. He also admits he isn't sure what those methods are.

Wilson told 
Reuters, "I guess a perfect solution would be installing cell phone jammers in every car but that is not going to happen. Unlike drunk driving, where you have effective enforcement mechanisms you don't have that with texting. The cop just has to get lucky and see you texting while driving."

A good example of the problem with these bans is that despite the ban on texting and driving enacted in Raleigh, N.C. in 2009, there have been few tickets written as a result. The reason for the few tickets is just as Wilson stated, catching drivers in the act is difficult.

A spokesman for the Highway Patrol in N.C. stated, "It’s an excellent law; it's just that a trooper has to articulate that a person is in fact texting and not looking at their phone number or making a phone call."

Another study found that the bans on cell phones were more effective in dense urban areas than in rural areas. Yet another study has found that bans on cell phone use while driving has not reduced accidents in areas when accident rates before and after bans went into effect are compared.

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RE: Darwinism at its finest
By NesuD on 9/24/2010 10:03:17 AM , Rating: 3
Well unfortunately Technology is doing a piss poor job thinning said herd.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today released updated 2009 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 33,808 for the year, the lowest number since 1950. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels.

Fact is there are fewer automotive fatalities today than at anytime since 1950. I would say that is far more newsworthy than this.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By Homerboy on 9/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: Darwinism at its finest
By BobT on 9/24/2010 11:29:41 AM , Rating: 5
Actually it has a lot to do with "Tech". Todays automobiles compared with the ones from the 50s benefit greatly from technology that helps save lives. Air bags, suspension systems, braking systems, traction control systems, tires, auto body structural design, glass, padded dashes, lighting systems, all up and down the gamut of automotive design. Technology has made todays cars safer for STUPID drivers more than at any time in the past.

I see it as a race by the automotive industry to use technology to attempt to keep ahead of the stupid things people will do while driving.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By goku on 9/24/2010 12:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
While these things have certainly helped, it does NOT account for the dramatic decline in vehicular deaths from 2007 to 2008 and so on. The reason for the decline is due to the poor economy; there is no single thing that could account for a decline like that in such a short period of time except for the economy. A poor economy disproportionately hurts the poor and the young (no gas money) and they just so happen to be the riskiest of drivers. Why else would subcompacts and pickup trucks have the exact same death rate while minivans and land yachts have the lowest death rate if it isn't because of the person behind the wheel? A perfect example to illustrate this dichotomy is the death rate difference between the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Ford Crown Victoria.
The Mercury Grand Marquis is rated higher to the point of being rated as "better than average" compared to the Crown Victoria's "average" rating despite the vehicles being nearly identical.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By BobT on 9/24/2010 2:09:17 PM , Rating: 1
Your argument only reinforces the premise that technology is saving more lives. Think about it. What do the poor and the young drive? I'll answer that for you, older autos with less of the newer technologies. Therefore if less of them are on the road then the accidents that are happening are happening with newer autos that do a better job of protecting the STUPID inhabitants of those autos.

I am not saying that you don't have a valid point, but blaming the economy and its effect on the poor and young as the primary factor insinuates that the poor and the young are responsible for a greater share of bad drivers than the rest of the population. While this may be true of the young primarily due to inexperience, I have never seen the poor labeled by the insurance companies as bad drivers in general.

As far as the difference between the Grand Marquis and the Crown Vic, you have to look who uses each more carefully than just thinking that Grand Marquis is more expensive. The Crown Vic is a standard in the police car field. They tend to have more accidents than the average population so would disproportionately affect the numbers. I am not saying the police are bad drivers, they just happen to be in unsafe conditions much more often than the general public. They may be sitting beside the road writing a ticket and some STUPID cell phone user runs into their parked Crown Vic and kills them. Happens way too often.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By goku on 9/24/2010 10:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
If you compare any vehicle say the Camry vs the Lexus ES, despite the vehicles being nearly identical, the more expensive vehicle generally has lower losses.. HOWEVER.. Funny thing, the Cadillac Escalade has a higher insurance liability than the Chevy Suburban, Tahoe, etc. and I think you can guess why... As for insurance companies not distinguishing the rich from the poor, they do, just in ways you're not aware of.. Think credit score, zip code and the vehicle they drive. Check out this chart:
the Chevy Corvette is one of the lowest losses vehicle while the Scion tC, Cobalt, Civic Si, Hyundai Tiburon are some of the highest loss vehicles, which just so happen to be driven by the poor and the young... While it's technically true that a young, poor person can be a good, responsible driver, insurance is based upon statistics, and statistically, that person is more likely to be a high liability.

If the economy ever does recover to the way it was before, expect the accident rate to climb.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By Mitch101 on 9/24/2010 12:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
Adding to your list.
As an owner of a car with Sync there are many additional things I can do without needing to take my hands off the wheel.

Talk on the phone, Voice dialing, Answer call is a button/voice command from my steering wheel.

Voice commands for controlling my music, weather, stock reports, daily news.

I can reply to a text message. Yes I said that. Sync will read me a text message and I can reply to it without ever taking my hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.

I never have to reach for anything except the thermostat. Its all build into the steering wheel and uses voice commands.

My wife's onstar if she is in an accident OnStar can use onboard GPS to determine where she is and send help.

The problem is people are building better idiots.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By torpor on 9/24/2010 4:58:53 PM , Rating: 3

All you have to do is look at the crash test the IIHS ran to celebrate 50 years of work. They smashed a 2009 Chevy Malibu into a 1959 Chevy Bel Air.

It wasn't even close. The driver of the Bel Air would be pulp. The driver of the Mailbu would walk away.

Here's the site and video:

If you watch, pay special attention to the steering wheel in the Bel Air. The driver's head mostly keeps it from exiting through the roof.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By goku on 9/24/2010 10:16:48 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget however the bel air not only had an "X" frame which was a piece of shit in every way including a car accident but also was rusted as shit as you can see from the plume of "rust colored smoke" after the accident. Take a car from the 60s with a ladder frame and not rusted to nothing and maybe things will change. Fact is, airbags have allowed manufacturers today to build cars with smaller crumple zones, which while great for maximizing space, shitty for crash safety sans airbags.. I'd much rather the $800 or so spent on airbags actually be spent on better body material, that way I have more room in my engine bay to work in and around. (Think Volvo 240 vs Toyota Yaris)

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By Lerianis on 9/26/2010 10:51:26 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you need to work in the engine bay? Most cars today are made so that unless you are an auto mechanic that SPECIALIZES in that type of car, you wouldn't know how to fix anything.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By fishman on 9/24/2010 10:41:13 AM , Rating: 2
Not only that, if you assume that more people are texting today that in 2001-2007, more people are using cell phones today than over that time period, and smartphones today are even more distracting, there should be a jump in fatalities now instead of a decrease. So I call this 16,000 dead figure bogus. Sure, there are some killed, but not nearly as many as they claim.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By sleepeeg3 on 9/24/2010 12:30:36 PM , Rating: 3
Heck, I have almost been run over by morons texting and swerving around on their bikes! I have even seen idiots on skateboards texting. I don't care how skilled you think you are, but not watching where you are going for 10-20 seconds is going to end up injuring someone, hopefully just your future Darwin award winning self.

RE: Darwinism at its finest
By Lerianis on 9/26/2010 10:54:15 PM , Rating: 1
No, it won't. Personally, I did a test where I rode my bike with my eyes closed for 30 seconds.... I didn't crash into anything at all, and my friends said I didn't even come close to crashing into anything.

Now, when you are in a car that is moving MUCH FASTER? Yeah, even 5 seconds of distraction can cost you, though I wonder if this is equivalent to changing the station on a radio? Makes you think, doesn't it?

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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