The Obama administration has issued a report indicating that almost 60,000 people were killed and 515,000 were injured in 2008 in auto accidents as a result of driver distraction. Driver inattention was involved in 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008.
The largest percentage of those accidents involved drivers under the age of 20. The Insurance Journal suggests that many of these accidents were the result of mobile phones and texting. Remarkably, 18% of those surveyed for the study admitted to having texted while driving in the month prior to their survey.
In response to the growing problem, and the apparent irresistible urge to text, 18 states and the District of Columbia have made the practice of texting while driving illegal. Seven other states have outlawed cell phone use completely while driving. Numerous highway safety groups haves urged a nationwide ban on cell phone use and texting while driving.
The greatest concern for public safety is in the area of texting. Texting popularity is explosive growing form 10 billion messages a month to 110 billion per month in the three year period December 2005 to December 2008.
Like many areas of public safety, the change will come in the courts through lawsuits. The persuasive power of the personal injury lawsuits persuades like no other argument can. As punitive damages claims continue to climb and meet with growing success, the legislation will follow.
In the meantime, watch out for anyone staring at their lap and load up on uninsured and underinsured coverage. Rest assured in New Mexico, with the highest rate of uninsured motorists in the country, the kid that just barreled into while texting his girlfriend is either uninsured or severely underinsured.