Most of us can probably agree that texting while driving is a dangerous practice, but is it as deadly as we’re being told? Karl Henkel has been looking at the numbers, and what he’s found may surprise you:
A few weeks back I wrote a blog post comparing two data points from two federal agencies: The number of deaths resulting from text messaging while driving and the number of deaths resulting from syphilis.
The conclusion was that more die from syphilis than from texting and driving.
But a new study claims that 3,000 teenagers die annually as a result of texting and driving. Remember, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said in 2011 there were 39 texting and driving “incidents.”
For those scoring at home, the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York says there were 77 times more deaths as a result of TWD than fatal TWD incidents reported by NHTSA. Since NHTSA, in its 2011 research note, did not report number of actual deaths — only “incidents” — I’m going to use a potentially wildly inaccurate variable to make a point. If an average of four deaths occurred for every one reported NHTSA incident, that means 156 people died as a direct result of TWD.
The Cohen report estimates 3,000 teenagers died during roughly the same period.
For another comparison, NHTSA says 3,331 people — of any age — died in accidents involving any kind of distracted driving — eating, reading, putting on makeup, etc.
Clearly, the numbers don’t add up.