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Cell Phones Involved in 25 Percent of Auto Collisions

Almost 25 percent of all automobile accidents involve use of cell phones. The figures, obtained from the National Safety Council, point out how pervasive and dangerous cell phone usage while driving has become. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that almost 10 percent of the drivers on the nation's roads at any time are also on their cell phones.

Many states have laws against distracted driving

The results can be tragic. Imagine celebrating your 35th wedding anniversary when you receive a call telling you that your 25-year-old son has been killed by a distracted driver. This was the horror experienced by an Illinois couple who learned that their son was struck by a teenage girl who was downloading a ringtone while driving. Gloria and Chuck Wilhelm have gone forward from that dreadful day to advocate against distracted driving. They are largely responsible for an Illinois law that bans texting while driving and using cell phones while driving in school and construction zones. The Wilhelms continue to push for a law making any distracted driver who causes the death of another guilty of criminally negligent homicide. At present a similar accident would result only in a fine and a traffic violation for improper lane change. "This is all about choice," noted Wilhelm. "If people choose to be distracted, they should be liable for more than that. People are not going to change behaviors without a strong deterrent."

Distracted driving continues

Yet distracted driving continues across the country and has been likened to an epidemic, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Part of Secretary LaHood's actions to stop the dangerous practice has been the formation of FocusDriven, a group along the lines of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, pushing for a ban of all cell phone use while driving. The group's web page includes statistics, the status of legislation, and a touching memorial to the victims of distracted driving. The web page states that 5,474 people were killed by distracted driving in 2009. An additional 448,000 people were injured that year by the same cause. To date, Allstate, DuPont, and the National Safety Council have joined FocusDriven as partners in the effort to reduce distracted driving.

Source: Chicago Sun Times