Texting and driving accounts for 27 percent of crashes, report shows
A new report by the National Safety Council estimates 27 percent of all crashes on our highways involve the motorist using a cell phone while driving.
The council report states that texting-related crashes jumped from 5 to 6 percent while crashes involving drivers talking on cell phones held steady at 21 percent.
The data also shows texting while driving increases the risk of a crash at least eight times, while drivers who used their cell phones for a conversation are four times as likely to get into an accident.
According to Zach Hosseini, spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, drivers using cell phones remains a major problem.
Hosseini said it's often difficult "to drill down in crash stats and determine whether or not the driver was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, however we think about half the crashes in New Jersey involve driver inattention one way or another, and I think common sense would suggest that a cell phone would be involved in a great proportion of these crashes."
The "You Drive, You Text, You Pay" campaign was launched last year and provided additional funding to law enforcement agencies to help crackdown on texting and driving.
"The state provided $300,000 in grant funding to 60 police departments for extra patrols and checkpoints looking for distracted drivers were violating our cell phone law," Hosseini said.
He also said while public awareness and enforcement campaigns have been launched, it's not surprising people are still driving and using cell phones.
"It's going to take some time. You don't change people's perception about their safety in an instant," he said.
He said we know that this kind of a campaign takes time to sink in and makes an impact, by looking at efforts that were undertaken years ago to get drivers to use seat belts and stop drinking while they were behind the wheel.
"Having a similarly tailored program for distracted driving and cell phone use I think will make a big difference," Hosseini said. "It's been shown that consistent enforcement, high visibility enforcement, pared with tougher laws does make a difference, and the law was changed recently to make the penalties stiffer."
He said the bottom line here is simple.
"You have to keep your eyes on the road, not only your eyes but your focus, the brain can't really multitask like people think they can," he said.