Distracted Drivers Kill Thousands Each Year
Drivers who were distracted by electronic devices killed around 5,800 people in the United States during 2008, says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The numbers were presented at a two-day Transportation Department conference which focused on exploring research on how drivers are distracted by phones and other things around them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released numbers that showed more than 5,800 people were killed and 515,000 injured by distracted drivers last year. The administration estimates the number is in fact higher, as it is sometimes difficult to determine if the driver was distracted before an accident.
The number of incidents involving distracted drivers has risen steadily over the past years. In 2004, 11 percent of accidents were contributed to distracted drivers, compared to 16 percent in 2008. Drunken drivers are still much worse, accounting for 30 percent of vehicle-related deaths.
Auto manufacturers, the wireless industry, lawmakers and other groups support state and local efforts to ban texting while driving, but outlawing cellphone use behind the wheel has less support. Congress is also considering legislation to ban texting while driving.
"To put it plainly, distracted driving is a menace to society and it seems to be getting worse every year," LaHood said, adding that it was an "extraordinarily serious epidemic."
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