Dearth of Data Masks Scale of Distracted Driving Fatalities
A recent study found that drivers use their phones during a full 88 percent of trips. But NHTSA records may reflect only half of cases where phone use caused a fatal crash—masking the danger of distracted driving compared to alcohol and speeding.
The difficulty, Bloomberg reports, stems in part from the fact that NHTSA gathers data from states, who in turn gather from local police. Each entity may compile crash metrics differently. It's also difficult to prove that phone use caused the crash.
Safety advocates such as Smith say lawmakers, investigators and prosecutors won’t prioritize the danger of mobile phones in vehicles until they are seen as a sizable problem—as big as drinking, say. Yet, it won’t be measured as such until it’s a priority for lawmakers, investigators and prosecutors.