There are 270 million cellphones in use and, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, cell phones have caused 636,000 crashes, including 2,600 deaths, 342,000 injuries and a financial toll of $43 billion each year.
Despite recent public campaigns to get people to put down their phones while driving, 81 percent of people still say they use cellphones. That means by one calculation that at any given time almost 1 million drivers in cars are talking while on the nation’s highways. Research released last week on Beltway drivers in Virginia put the number at one in four. In 2008, more than 20 percent of crashes involved distracted drivers.
Yesterday, on its official blog titled Fastlane, the DOT announced a second national summit on distracted driving that will be held Sept. 21 to highlight the problem and find ways to combat it. This is a great step in the right direction. We need the country’s top experts to work together to stop this needless loss of lives.
At this point, this is a public health crisis. How many people need to be permanently injured or die before we take action?