Data from the last two full years for which figures are available indicates that fatal car accidents are declining, but that deadly motor vehicle crashes involving cell phone use are increasing.
In fact, a recent review of data by researchers at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center pegs texting-related auto accidents as the leading cause of death for teen drivers, surpassing alcohol-related wrecks by hundreds of fatalities. As awareness of the dangers of texting while driving have heightened, more states have begun regulating cell phone use.
Kentucky and Indiana are among the states that ban all drivers from texting while operating a motor vehicle. Both states also ban novice drivers from any cell phone use.
However, a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says many states face significant obstacles in enforcing distracted driving laws and raising public awareness about the potentially deadly risks of texting while driving. The 2013 Distracted Driving: GHSA Survey of the States details the efforts of individual states to gather information regarding collisions that stem from cell phone use and the challenges states face in addressing the growing problem of distracted driving.
Specifically, the GHSA report says that Kentucky faces a lack of funding for enforcement and education. Kentucky also lags in the collection of distracted driving data and suffers from a lack of support by law enforcement and the judiciary, according to the report.
The survey says that Indiana likewise has a lack of funding for distracted driving enforcement and education. The report also indicates a lack of support by law enforcement.
The news is not all bad. Forty-one states now ban all drivers from texting while behind the wheel, and the remaining nine states are considering bills that would ban drivers from texting. Forty-six states have also joined efforts to gather data explicitly related to distracted driving accidents in their police reports.