California: 10% of drivers on phone

California's Office of Traffic Safety reports a "shocking" increase in use of cell phones by state drivers. The OTS and Highway Patrol released a study July 14 suggesting a 39 percent increase in the percentage of California drivers using the wireless devices. Results showed almost 10 percent of drivers -- 9.2 percent -- were using cell phones while behind the wheel. Not all uses reported were in violation of state law, however. More than 3 percent of the drivers were employing headsets and/or Bluetooth devices, which is legal in California and all other states with restrictions on … [Read more...]

75 percent of U.S. now on smartphones

Three out of four mobile phone users in the U.S. now has an Internet-connected smartphone, according to an industry study. That translates to about 182 million people in the U.S. with the advanced mobile phones -- with smartphone penetration at an all-time high of 75 percent, according to the comScore report. The quick market adoption of smartphones has been seen by safety experts as a factor in the widespread problem of electronic distracted driving, with the phones providing speedy access to email, instant messaging, Web browsing and social media access, as well as video and … [Read more...]

Study: Primary enforcement saves lives

"Primary enforcement" of distracted driving laws leads to lower death rates in states with texting laws, while secondary enforcement does not, according to a new study. Meanwhile, another research team found that California's handheld device failed to lower the number of vehicle crashes in its first six months. The study on primary enforcement should bolster state lawmakers seeking to give police the ability to stop and cite distracted driving offenders. "Very little is known about whether laws banning texting while driving have actually improved roadway safety," said researcher Alva … [Read more...]

U.S. drivers: Get tough on texting

Three out of four U.S. drivers support tougher punishments for text messaging and driving, a recent poll suggests. There was little support for the current penalties, which vary widely and are for the most part established by states and municipalities. More than half of those surveyed in the National Safety Council poll backed the use of a point system that would eventually lead to a loss of the driver's license or increased insurance premiums. A majority also backed "large monetary fines" and escalating penalties for serial offenders. "Most people recognize that it will take more than … [Read more...]

Distraction’s toll: $175 billion a year

Distracted driving crashes cost the United States as much as $175 billion a year, according to a federal study. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says all highway crashes add up to $871 billion -- $277 billion a year in economic costs and $594 billion in "societal harm." Distracted driving crashes accounted for $46 billion (17 percent) of the total economic losses. The societal harm was put at $129 billion (15 percent) of the societal harm. Distraction was among the five key factors listed in the report "The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, … [Read more...]