If you’re reading this on your phone while driving, please stop and come back later.
We say this after a report published by Bloomberg concluded that distracted driving due to smartphone usage is actually much deadlier than data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration might lead to believe.
According to the numbers Bloomberg laid out, traffic fatalities in the U.S. have grown by 14.4% in the past two years. In the same time period, the number of Americans who own smartphones surged to 80%. Also in those two years, the number of pedestrians killed by cars rose by 22%.
While the NHTSA's data doesn’t provide a direct correlation between these figures, the spike in road fatalities must be accounted for, especially given the fact the percentage fell for nearly a decade straight before 2015. Distracted driving seems to be a prime suspect.
What makes that hypothesis hard to prove is the NHTSA is forced to get its data about phone-related deaths from individual states, which then leads categorization problems. To wit, a recent study by the National Safety Council found that only half of fatal crashes tied to known phone use were coded correctly in NHTSA databases.
“Honestly, I think the real number of fatalities tied to cell phones is at least three times the federal figure,” Stopdistractions.org founder Jennifer Smith told Bloomberg. “We’re all addicted and the scale of this is unheard of.”
The takeaway? It’s common sense that as the number of distractions at your disposal increases so does