We have all seen "that driver" on the way to work: the man or woman who is more interesting in tweeting than the road. Although most of these drivers stop texting after being involved in a minor fender bender, there are many distracted drivers who cause fatal car accidents while their eyes are glued to a phone screen. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that 3,092 people died last year in cellphone-related car accidents.
Many of these crashes happen when a texting driver either hits a pedestrian or crosses the center line of the road and hits another car-head on. The new statistics relating to cellphone-related car accidents are not limited to texting drivers however. The NHTSA's "distraction-affected" measurement of car accident deaths also includes drivers who crash while answering calls or talking on the phone.
The distraction-affected death toll also takes hands-free devices into consideration. A hands-free device can be just as dangerous as a hand-held cellphone because a hands-free device can take a driver's mind off of the road just long enough for an accident to occur.
The NHTSA collected its statistics by conducting a phone survey. Cellphone users were included in the survey and it is likely that many of these calls were taken in the car. Three-fourths of drivers said that they will continue to accept at least some cars while driving and an alarming number of driver said that they do not take the traffic situation into consideration before answering their phone.
Source: USA Today, "Feds: Phoning, texting killed 3,092 in car crashes last year," James R. Healey, Dec. 8, 2011