Why you should just hang up the phone

 
 
Updated 6/5/2011 7:53 AM

Still think texting while driving isn't a big deal?

Maybe these statistics will convince you.

 

The Itasca-based National Safety Council estimates that at least 28 percent of all traffic crashes are linked to motorists using cellphones or texting.

A recent poll released by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports magazine says 63 percent of people younger than 30 admitted to driving while using a cellphone and 30 percent admit to sending text messages while driving. For those older than 30, the percentages were 41 percent on the phone and 9 percent texting.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show:

• Of the nearly 5,500 people killed in crashes blamed on distracted driving across the United States in 2009, 995 involved a cellphone as a distraction.

• Of the 448,000 people injured in distracted driving crashes that same year, 24,000 cited a cellphone as a distraction.

• Sixteen percent of fatal crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.

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• Twenty percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.

Yet people who text while they drive are responsible for at least 200,000 crashes every year in the United States, which account for less than 1 percent of all accidents, the council suggests.

"A traffic crash (from texting) is a very rare occurrence," said David Teater, the council's senior director of transportation initiatives. "If you drive once or twice while texting, then you keep doing it until a tragedy hits or until you get stopped a lot ... and there are significant penalties."