Study suggests text messaging could be responsible for most North Carolina car accidents caused by distracted driving

The vast majority of distracted driving car accidents can be blamed on text messaging, according to the results of a study by the University of North Texas, which were published in the Chicago Tribune.

Our North Carolina car accident attorneys frequently report the dangers of text messaging while behind the wheel. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that 30 states now have laws on the books that prohibit drivers from text messaging. North Carolina drivers are forbidden from text messaging by law — no such law exists in South Carolina.
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Distracted driving is blamed for nearly 5,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, making it the third-deadliest driving behavior after speeding and drunk driving. But pinpointing how many of those accidents were caused by text messaging has been difficult.

The university study used federal accident data and texting records from the Federal Communications Commission and CTIA, the wireless telecom industry group. They calculated that 1,925 fatal accidents caused by distracted driving would have occurred between 2002 and 2007 had text messaging never been invented. With text messaging, distracted driving fatalities increased from 4,611 in 2001 to 5,988 in 2007.

Among the findings:

-The percentage of traffic deaths rose from 11 percent in 1999 to 16 percent in 2008.

-Distracted driving is most common in urban areas.

-The percentage of Americans with cell phones has increased from 33 percent in 1999 to 91 percent in 2008.

-6 percent of drivers are using a cell phone at any given time.

“The increase in traffic fatalities since 2005 appears to be related to a shift in how handheld devices are used,” researchers wrote. “Nowadays, they beep at us or vibrate much more frequently – and when they do, they demand that attention be turned to the screen.”

Among the suggestions for reducing the danger were criminal charges for texting and driving and the routine use of cell phone records in accident investigations to determine whether an at-fault driver was texting or using a cell phone at the time of the crash.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965. Serving all of North and South Carolina, including Burlington, Charlotte, Concord and Greensboro.

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