Fatal car crashes killed nearly 43,000 people in the US in 2021.
It is believed that cellphones and other distractions are responsible for 50% of all crashes.
Distracted driving is a serious problem. The reported numbers are inaccurate or incomplete and the source issue is found somewhere between the automakers, the smartphone companies, and the end user.
We’re always reading about being safer than ever, many of them loaded with self-driving and/or active safety technologies. Despite these state-of-the-art features, deadly accidents are up in the US, having reached a 16-year in 2021 at 43,000 incidents. Back in 2012, the number was 33,000.
Despite plenty of laws being put into action restricting cellphone manipulation while driving to limit disruptions, infotainment systems have become equally massive sources of distractions. What’s more, these same technologies, which are being worked on and improved by their creators (CarPlay by Apple for example) have become the greatest source of issues for drivers – they are unreliable, fussy, and oftentimes unresponsive.
Data shows, as shared by the LA Times article, that reported fatalities due to distracted driving are essentially unchanged over the last decade, or about 3,000 to 4,000 a year. There’s a good reason why this is.
“It’s against people’s self-interest to say, ‘I was on the cellphone’ or ‘I was using the infotainment system’” after a crash, “because there can be serious consequences,” said Cathy Chase, who heads Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety. “I don’t think we’re getting an accurate picture of what’s happening on the roads,” she said.
In fact, polled insurance agents believe that 50% of all crashes they handle were caused by distracted driving.
So who’s to blame? Automakers and smartphone companies say that improved infotainment systems are the answer. According to a recent State Farm survey, more than half of respondents said they “always” or “often” read or send text messages while driving while a disturbing 43% (!) said they watched cellphone videos always or often while driving. Maybe we’re the problem?