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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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By Chocobollz on 9/24/2010 3:07:56 PM , Rating: 3
While I agree with you that talking with handset while driving doesn't necessarily more dangerous than talking directly to another passenger, it seems that you forgot to take human physichology into consideration.

In reality, when you're talking to another people in the car, most of the time, both of you and them will have some sort of awareness of the fact that their lives is in your hands and so they'll try to protect you from any dangerous action while driving. For instance, let's say you're talking to 2 people in the rear seat and you're not paying attention to the road, I bet at least one of the person you're talking with will try to remind you if they feel something dangerous is happening, like maybe you're too close to a car in front of you or something. And they will try to assist you while you're not paying attention to the traffic by looking at the traffic ahead. What they're thinking basically is, if you're dead, then they're dead too. So I'd say, they wouldn't try to do something stupid to distract you from the road, unless they're trying to kill both of you :p.

Now, it wouldn't be the same with the person you're talking on the phone. They wouldn't have the same awareness even if they knows that you're driving. If you're dead, they wouldn't be dead, because they aren't in the car with you. So they're less concerned about your current situation (that you're driving and need to focus on the road ahead).


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