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Why underreported cell phone accidents should matter to you

If you're involved in an accident in North Carolina, the reporting process goes something like this:

  1. Your accident occurs.
  2. The police arrive and determine what caused the accident.
  3. Their findings are compiled into a report.
  4. That report is entered into regional and national databases.
  5. Those databases generate statistics on accident causes each year.

These statistics then influence national prevention priorities, funding decisions, media attention, legislation, and even vehicle and roadway engineering.

Iphone_12292014So, in the end, your accident has a direct impact on where funding, attention and legislation is directed.

But what if the real cause of your accident wasn't reported? And what if 50% of accidents weren't interpreted properly?

Unfortunately, according to a report by the National Safety Council (NSC), that may be the case.

The NSC study:

For their study, the NSC identified 180 fatal crashes from 2009-2011 that were positively connected to cell phone use. Cell phone use was verified via a passenger in the car, someone who had been on the other end of the phone, an investigation or court documents (such as wireless records).

Then they cross-referenced these accidents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Here's what they found:

Agreement between NSC review of 180 crash cases and FARS

This chart illustrates that, among the accidents considered in the study, nearly half of cell phone accident cases were unreported in 2011. And in 2010 and 2009, the numbers were much worse.

Agreement between 57 cases where driver admitted cell phone use and FARS
Of course, the best indication of cell phone use is when the driver admits it. This study identified 57 cases (out of their original 180) where the driver openly admitted to using a cell phone at the time of the accident.

As this chart illustrates, even out of those cases, the cell phone usage was only included in the report 50% of the time or less.

Agreement between crash reports with checkbox or numerical codes and FARS
When narrowed down to accidents where the police report contained a specific field for cell phone use, the statistics did somewhat improve, but there is still a significant gap.

"Cell phone use" defined

For the purpose of the study, the NSC defined "cell phone use" as any behaviors where drivers were actively engaged with their cell phone at the time of the crash.

These included behaviors such as: talking; typing or reading text or email; dialing phone numbers; using music, navigation or other apps; looking at phone; and reaching for the phone if it was ringing. A cell phone simply being in the car did not qualify the accident for the study.

What that means in NC:

The study also broke down their data by state for 2011 and 2010. In both instances, North Carolina ranked well below average for reporting cell phone use as a factor in car accidents.

Only .4% of cases in NC identified cell phone use as a factor in fatal crashes in both 2011 and 2010 - meaning our state may be devoting legislation, funding and attention to other, "more important" issues without knowing the real facts.

If you've been injured in an accident:

Texting and driving, or any cell phone usage while driving, can have devastating consequences. If you've been hurt by someone who was distracted behind the wheel, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help.

Give us a call for a free case evaluation today - 1-866-900-7078. We've represented thousands of North Carolinians who've been injured in a car accident and we may be able to help you.

Contact Information

Asheville Law Office

300 Ridgefield Court Suite 309
Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: 828-552-8215
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

301 S McDowell St, Suite 900
Charlotte, NC 28204
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

2915 Raeford Road, Suite 204
Fayetteville, NC 28303
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

1308 Wayne Memorial Drive, Suite B
Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: 919-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Greenville Law Office

702 Cromwell Dr. Suite G
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Morganton Law Office

216 N. Sterling Street, Suite B
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: 828-219-3080
Toll Free: 1-844-520-2894

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

144 Woodridge Court
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078