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How often are cellphones a factor in motor vehicle accidents?

It is difficult to know how often talking on cellphones and texting play a significant role in crashes, as data generally relies on drivers self-reporting, or on witness accounts. In response to the problem, the National Safety Council has developed the Annual Estimate of Cell Phone Crashes. The NSC estimated that talking on cellphones played a role in 1.1 million, or 20 percent of accidents in 2013. Whether or not the driver holds the phone seems to be irrelevant, as the numbers reflect the use of both handheld and hands-free devices.


In addition, at least 341,000, or six percent, of accidents in 2013 were attributed to texting. The estimate for crashes involving texting range from six to 16 percent. Texting may be under-reported even more than talking on a cellphone because drivers are either unwilling or unable to admit to the activity after an accident.


Distracted driving is increasingly prevalent. The NSC states that in daylight hours, at any given moment, distracted drivers using their cellphones make up 8.6 percent of motor vehicle traffic. You are four times as likely to crash while talking on a cellphone. The risk of having an accident because you are texting increases anywhere from eight to 23 percent.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 25 percent of teen drivers pay attention to at least one text while they are driving. Ironically, some of those texts may be in conversation with parents. states that 10 percent of parents and 20 percent of teenagers engage in serial text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.



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