Use of Cell Phones in Crashes May Be Underreported

Experts rely upon crash reports to determine trends and patterns, such as how many fatalities are caused by distracted driving. But a new study indicates there may be underreporting when it comes to the use of cellphones in fatal car crashes.

The National Safety Council (NSC) says this is a significant problem because it prevents the public from taking the issue seriously, and may impact legislation or funding necessary to address the issue. However, they admit that this information can be hard to obtain after a crash for a few reasons.

One reason is that most drivers don’t admit they were using their cell phones. Another reason is that when the accident is in a state where cellphones aren’t prohibited, it may not be considered or noted on a police report. Or it could be that another violation (such as speeding) takes precedence.

Investigative efforts are sometimes challenging. For instance, it’s not always possible to get cell phone records from a wireless company. If they are obtained, it would need to be proven that at the exact time of the crash the phone was being used by the driver.

Despite New York’s large population, crash reports don’t seem to reflect the number involving cellphone usage. There are only ten reported crashes of this nature in 2010 and just one in 2011, according to the NSC report.

Cellphone Laws in New York

Some states have strict laws when it comes to the use of cell phones. New York is one of them. The state bans the use of handheld mobile devices and texting while driving.

Some states make these secondary laws, which means a citation can only be given for a violation if the driver was stopped for another reason (such as running a stop sign). In New York, it is a primary law. So even without another driving offense, a motorist can be stopped and ticketed for using a handheld device.

If it’s believed the use of a cell phone contributed to a crash, it’s beneficial to seek legal advice. An attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates may be able to help in establishing the cause of a crash.

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