Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobodys Counting

Jennifer Smith doesn’t like the term “accident.” It implies too much chance and too little culpability.

A “crash” killed her mother in 2008, she insists, when her car was broadsided by another vehicle while on her way to pick up cat food. The other driver, a 20-year-old college student, ran a red light while talking on his mobile phone, a distraction that he immediately admitted and cited as the catalyst of the fatal event. 

“He was remorseful,” Smith, now 43, said. “He never changed his story.”

Yet in federal records, the death isn’t attributed to distraction or mobile-phone use. It’s just another line item on the grim annual toll taken by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration [NHTSA]—one of 37,262 that year. Three months later, Smith quit her job as a realtor and formed Stopdistractions.org, a nonprofit lobbying and support group. Her intent was to make the tragic loss of her mother an anomaly.

To that end, she has been wildly unsuccessful. Nine years later, the problem of death-by-distraction has gotten much worse.

Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent. In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade. Regulators, meanwhile, still have no good idea why crash-related deaths are spiking: People are driving longer distances but not tremendously so; total miles were up just 2.2 percent last year. Collectively, we seemed to be speeding and drinking a little more, but not much more than usual. Together, experts say these upticks don’t explain the surge in road deaths.

There are however three big clues, and they don’t rest along the highway. One, as you may have guessed, is the substantial increase in smartphone use by U.S. drivers as they drive. From 2014 to 2016, the share of Americans who owned an iPhone, Android phone, or something comparable rose from 75 percent to 81 percent.

The second is the changing way in which Americans use their phones while they drive. These days, we’re pretty much done talking. Texting, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the order of the day—all activities that require far more attention than simply holding a gadget to your ear or responding to a disembodied voice. By 2015, almost 70 percent of Americans were using their phones to share photos and follow news events via social media. In just two additional years, that figure has jumped to 80 percent.

Finally, the increase in fatalities has been largely among bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians—all of whom are easier to miss from the driver’s seat than, say, a 4,000-pound SUV—especially if you’re glancing up from your phone rather than concentrating on the road. Last year, 5,987 pedestrians were killed by cars in the U.S., almost 1,100 more than in 2014—that’s a 22 percent increase in just two years.  

Safety regulators and law enforcement officials certainly understand the danger of taking—or making—a phone call while operating a piece of heavy machinery. They still, however, have no idea just how dangerous it is, because the data just isn’t easily obtained. And as mobile phone traffic continues to shift away from simple voice calls and texts to encrypted social networks, officials increasingly have less of a clue than ever before. 

Out of NHTSA’s full 2015 dataset, only 448 deaths were linked to mobile phones—that’s just 1.4 percent of all traffic fatalities. By that measure, drunk driving is 23 times more deadly than using a phone while driving, though studies have shown that both activities behind the wheel constitute (on average) a similar level of impairment. NHTSA has yet to fully crunch its 2016 data, but the agency said deaths tied to distraction actually last year.

There are many reasons to believe mobile phones are far deadlier than NHTSA spreadsheets suggest. Some of the biggest indicators are within the data itself. In more than half of 2015 fatal crashes, motorists were simply going straight down the road—no crossing traffic, rainstorms, or blowouts. Meanwhile, drivers involved in accidents increasingly mowed down things smaller than a Honda Accord, such as pedestrians or cyclists, many of whom occupy the side of the road or the sidewalk next to it. Fatalities increased inordinately among motorcyclists (up 6.2 percent in 2016) and pedestrians (up 9 percent).

“Honestly, I think the real number of fatalities tied to cell phones is at least three times the federal figure,” Jennifer Smith said. “We’re all addicted and the scale of this is unheard of.”

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

In a recent study (PDF), the nonprofit National Safety Council found only about half of fatal crashes tied to known mobile phone use were coded as such in NHTSA databases. In other words, according to the NSC, NHTSA’s figures for distraction-related death are too low.

Perhaps more telling are the findings of Zendrive Inc., a San Francisco startup that analyzes smartphone data to help insurers of commercial fleets assess safety risks. In a study of 3 million people, it found drivers using their mobile phone during 88 percent of trips. The true number is probably even higher because Zendrive didn’t capture instances when phones were mounted in a fixed position—so-called hands free technology, which is also considered dangerous.

“It’s definitely frightening,” said Jonathan Matus, Zendrive’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Pretty much everybody is using their phone while driving.”

Source: Apple

There are, by now, myriad technological nannies that freeze smartphone activity. Most notably, a recent version of Apple’s iOS operating system can be configured to keep a phone asleep when its owner is driving and to send an automated text response to incoming messages. However, the “Do Not Disturb” function can be overridden by the person trying to get in touch. More critically, safety advocates note that such systems require an opt-in from the same users who have difficulty ignoring their phones in the first place.

In NHTSA’s defense, its tally of mobile phone-related deaths is only as good as the data it gets from individual states, each of which has its own methods for diagnosing and detailing the cause of a crash. Each state in turn relies on its various municipalities to compile crash metrics—and they often do things differently, too. 

The data from each state is compiled from accident reports filed by local police, most of which don’t prompt officers to consider mobile phone distraction as an underlying cause. Only 11 states use reporting forms that contain a field for police to tick-off mobile-phone distraction, while 27 have a space to note distraction in general as a potential cause of the accident.

The fine print seems to make a difference. Tennessee, for example, has one of the most thorough accident report forms in the country, a document that asks police to evaluate both distractions in general and mobile phones in particular. Of the 448 accidents involving a phone in 2015 as reported by NHTSA, 84 occurred in Tennessee. That means, a state with 2 percent of the country’s population accounted for 19 percent of its phone-related driving deaths. As in polling, it really depends on how you ask the question.

Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Christopher Sanchez, a national expert on distracted driving, said many police departments still focus on drinking or drug use when investigating a crash. Also, figuring out whether a mobile phone was in use at the time of a crash is usually is getting trickier every day—proving that it precipitated the event can be even harder to do.

Prosecutors have a similar bias. Currently, it’s illegal for drivers to use a handheld phone at all in 15 states, and texting while driving is specifically barred in 47 states. But getting mobile phone records after a crash typically involves a court order and, and even then, the records may not show much activity beyond a call or text. If police provide solid evidence of speeding, drinking, drugs or some other violation, lawyers won’t bother pursuing distraction as a cause.

“Crash investigators are told to catch up with this technology phenomenon—and it’s hard,” Sanchez said. “Every year new apps are developed that make it even more difficult.” Officers in Arizona and Montana, meanwhile, don’t have to bother, since they allow mobile phone use while you drive. And in Missouri, police only have to monitor drivers under age 21 who pick up their phone while driving.

Like Smith, Emily Stein, 36, lost a parent to the streets. Ever since her father was killed by a distracted driver in 2011, she sometimes finds herself doing unscientific surveys. She’ll sit in front of her home in the suburbs west of Boston and watch how many passing drivers glance down at their phones.

“I tell my local police department: ‘If you come here, sit on my stoop and hand out tickets. You’d generate a lot of revenue,’” she said.

Since forming the Safe Roads Alliance five years ago, Stein talks to the police regularly. “A lot of them say it surpasses drunk driving at this point,” she said. Meanwhile, grieving families and safety advocates such as her are still struggling to pass legislation mandating hands-free-only use of phones while driving—Iowa and Texas just got around to banning texting behind the wheel.

“The argument is always that it’s big government,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “The other issue is that … it’s hard to ban something that we all do, and we know that we want to do.”

Safety advocates such as Smith say lawmakers, investigators and prosecutors won’t prioritize the danger of mobile phones in vehicles until they are seen as a sizable problem—as big as drinking, say. Yet, it won’t be measured as such until it’s a priority for lawmakers, investigators and prosecutors.

“That’s the catch-22 here,” Smith said. “We all know what’s going on, but we don’t have a breathalyzer for a phone.”

Perhaps the lawmakers who vote against curbing phone use in cars should watch the heart-wrenching 36-minute documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog made on the subject. Laudably, the piece, , was bankrolled by the country’s major cellular companies. “It’s not just an accident,” Herzog said of the fatalities. “It’s a new form of culture coming at us, and it’s coming with great vehemence.”

Adkins has watched smartphone culture overtake much of his work in 10 years at the helm of the GHSA, growing increasingly frustrated with the mounting death toll and what he calls clear underreporting of mobile phone fatalities. But he doesn’t think the numbers will come down until a backlash takes hold, one where it’s viewed as shameful to drive while using a phone. Herzog’s documentary, it appears, has had little effect in its four years on YouTube.com. At this point, Adkins is simply holding out for gains in autonomous driving technology.

“I use the cocktail party example,” he explained. “If you’re at a cocktail party and say, ‘I was so hammered the other day, and I got behind the wheel,’ people will be outraged. But if you say the same thing about using a cell phone, it won’t be a big deal. It is still acceptable, and that’s the problem.”

    More From this publisher : HERE

     


    RELATED PRODUCTS
  1. The Ultimate Guide Revealing Proven Steps To Successfully Sell Your Bead Jewelry
  2. Put small animated peel image at the top corner right or left on webpage
  3. The Perfect Line Count And Invoice Program For The Medical Or Legal Transcriptionist.
  4. Destroy workout plateaus and trash boring and outdated interval workout with 51 news
  5. Click Here to Discover the Secret Survival Technique You Probably Never Thought About.
  6. Join Our Community To Learn All About Commodity Trading And Show Off Your Trading Skills
  7. The stunning secret of turning your wife on with the push of a button.
  8. Find out Putin's sickening strategy and how it will inevitably affect US citizens.
  9. Clickbank Ads
     

    If you like our content help us with a share… or two …  

    Also -  I have some free stuff for you .......

    Nr 1. In This FREE Report you can Discover:

    Secrets to acquiring the freshest, hottest leads via YouTube In-Stream ads quickly and easily! Best secret tips for the most effective targeting for your ads! Totally legal, but little-known method for literally stealing traffic from your competitors! Get more traffic to your videos and landing pages without spending a fortune! And much more - all within this special FREE report!

     

    Nr 2. Did you know you can Absolutely EXPLODE YOUR EMAIL LIST FOR FREE with UNTOUCHED offline sources?

     

    Nr 3. The #1 secret to becoming an affiliate superstar - Earn your first $100 online – without a dime to invest.

    If you’re still looking to “make it online – I have just the thing for you. It’s a video series that shows how to make your first $100 online – even if you don’t have a dime to invest. Yes – nothing.  Free.  Nada. Is this possible? You bet. It’s the most powerful system used by those “in the know”. Good things don’t have to be difficult. And they don’t only come to those who wait. Have A Look

     

    Nr 4. Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes. Which of these mistakes do you make?

     

    Nr 5.  You can learn about : The hottest social networking site that will send an unlimited stampede of traffic to your site - for FREE! How to quickly locate a swarm of hungry buyers using "information portals"! The fast and easy way to use simple images to siphon targeted traffic, on command! Learn how to get the most possible traffic from Instagram, and make sure that traffic converts! And much more ...

     

    Nr 6. It’s no secret… Facebook is an incredible place to get tons of free, viral traffic. But… most people are going about it all wrong.  How many of these mistakes are you making? Download the free report to find out.

       

    Nr 7.  Special free report .  It's called "Operation Midas Touch" and you can download it here...

    The report features a surefire method for generating at least $1000 per week online,without a website or product of your own!

    Nr 8.  Instagram is still one of the hottest ways to get a LOT of traffic fast. All by sharing images. Sounds easy enough, yeah? Well, yes and no. If you want to really start driving a lot of  traffic and making sales using Instagram then you should download this report.

    Nr 9.  When it comes to creating a product online there are so many ways to approach it. Wouldn’t it be great to just get the meat of it all so you can get started faster? Well, the good news is, today you can download a guide called the Product Creation Formula Quickstart Guide. It’s as the title suggests - a Quickstart guide. You’ll get a list of action steps to take right away. Download your copy today !

    Nr 10. Would you like to finally USE all of that dusty PLR you have sitting around on your harddrive? Or maybe find the resources for the best PLR available - at the best prices? What about how to use that PLR to make you money with just a few minutes of work. Well, you’re not going to want to miss this!

      Nr 11. Buzzfeed’s top post has more than 21 million views. Think about that for a sec… ONE of their articles has had over 21 million people who have read it! And they have thousands of articles... what would you do with that kind of traffic? A friend of mine hacked their method and was able to use it to get 11,592 targeted new subscribers in 2 weeks on their very first attempt!

    Nr 12. Push notifications are one of today's hottest trends in website traffic and conversions, and for good reason. Studies have shown that as many as 40% of people will opt-in for push notifications, which is about TEN TIMES the rate of people who opt-in for emails! That’s huge! Not only that, but they're also highly effective at pulling clicks, as well. Some studies have shown CTR at an average of around 40%, with highs of as much as 80%! Again, that’s huge!

    Nr 13. Would you like to know how to get more money from the exact same number of website visitors you’re currently getting? Even if you’re website is getting as few as 1-2 visitors a day, this report will show you how to increase your profits using these few handy hacks.

    Nr 14. People have now realised that it's not the size of the list which matters, it's the quality. ... and the only way to create a quality list is by launching your own products. Let it be $7 ebooks, $17 info products, $27 video training product or software's... all of these work. My good friend Kevin Fahey has is revealing how he's launched over 20 products in the past 4 years, many of them top sellers. Needless to say he's banked a handsome amount in this time.

    Nr 15. Do you ever feel that the man you like or even love, just doesn't see you or desire you in way you want him to? Or... maybe you're able to get a man's attention though not the right kind of attention? Or... maybe you're still single because you wait and wait for men to approach you first? What you may not know is that the way we flirt will either attract the "wrong" man for us or the "right" man.

    Nr 16. When it comes to getting sales and leads online, there is ONE thing that 95% of marketers use... it's called a LIST. My friend Jimmy just released a free book that explains WHY a list is important and how YOU can build your own list. It's available right here (and it won't cost you a penny)

    Nr 17. If you have tried everything, and still aren't able to get your Ex back, then you need to pay attention.

    Nr 18. What if I told you that you could make ANY woman WANT to do ANYTHING for you? Would you think I'm crazy? Well... what If I told you that you could also make her LOVE every minute of it and come back for more?

       

    Nr 19. I have a special free plugin for you today. It's called "Covert Hover Mini"

    This plugin will triple your blog traffic by compelling your visitors to share your images on social media. This is some really clever stuff and it works like a charm. After you grab your free plugin, don't  forget to read the free bonus report as it will show exactly how and why this strategy works like crazy.

    Nr 20. The days of being able to get away with a basic WP theme and a pic or two are gone, your site needs to look good. Even Google are looking for you to have engaging graphics on your site. But getting good quality graphics made for your site is a pain, AND it will cost you both time and money (if you outsource it). But I have a special free download for you today. A virtual treasure chest of over 21K profit pulling graphics you can start sing today to generate more traffic & sales!

    Nr 21. 20 professional full HD background videos. These background videos are perfect for giving your videos that extra kick they need to stand out from the crowd Oh yeah they are in full 1080p HD too, I hope you'll enjoy them.

    Nr 22. If you've ever failed to create a WordPress site of your own or typically waste hours & even weeks trying to figure it all out on your own....

    Nr 23. No doubt, you've seen all of the video launches lately! There is a reason for it... Video marketing is a GREAT way to make money, and with the recent creation tools making it super accessable for anyone to get started... It's no surprise that more people are making videos. However... there is a missing element to most video marketing products...

    Nr 24. For the first time ever... You can get the straight scoop on how someone is selling over $1,000,000/year of t-shirts on Facebook!

    Use them  .... and have fun !