The number of smartphone users in the United States in 2017 has been estimated at 224.3 million. By 2022, the number is projected to reach 270.6 million. The number of smartphone usage worldwide could reach 2.5 billion users by that time.*
It is true that the “smartphone (has become) the remote control of our lives,” a description coined by the New York Times in an article a couple of years ago. It seems we are attached to our phones more and more. Some will admit they are even addicted.
Sadly, it seems clear that as the use of these portable devices grow, so do serious injuries and deaths on our roadways. And the problem is only getting worse.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg News, 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.
It shouldn’t be to anyone’s surprise that this climb in fatalities is largely due to the substantial increase in smartphone use by drivers.
In a recent study, the National Safety Council (NSC) 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 way too low.
Sixteen states have outlawed any usage of a cell phone while driving, including Illinois. Indiana, like 46 other states, only outlaws texting and driving. There are even greater restrictions for younger drivers.
Couple all this with the continued issues of driving while impaired -- through drugs, alcohol, speeding and just general distractions -- and the situation becomes even more complicated.
“Safety advocates say lawmakers, investigators and prosecutors won’t prioritize the danger of mobile phones in vehicles until they (realize that this) is a sizable problem—as big as drinking. Yet, it won’t be measured as such until it’s a priority for lawmakers, investigators and prosecutors,” says the report from Bloomberg News.
As we at Theodoros & Rooth have often said, many of these traffic accidents could be avoided through stricter controls on irresponsible driving and lawmakers enacting stricter penalties. If you or a family member has been the victim of a traffic accident caused by the fault of another, please contact a personal injury attorney at Theodoros & Rooth and tell us your story. If we think you have a case, we will fight for a fair resolution. Of course, there is never a charge until justice is served.
*Data from Statista. Other sources: Bloomberg News; The New York Times