Smartphones Are Causing Deaths To Dramatically Rise In One Common Aspect Of Daily Life

The National Distracted Driving Coalition shared frightening numbers on how many car accidents are caused by smartphones used while driving.

By Lyndon Nicholas | Updated

volvo driving

Although we are on the verge of self-driving cars taking over the highways, for now we are still in many ways tethered to the art of driving while using a cell phone. And apparently, this reliance has been deadly. According to a recent article from the LA Times, smartphones have been at the center of a dangerous spike in highway driving fatalities.

“It’s much bigger than the data show,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, calling it “an epidemic.” He also cites the non-fatal injuries that have been accruing” “Everybody talks about fatalities, but there are hundreds of thousands or more life-altering injuries.” He notes that these driving injuries and deaths are “not accidents” and they are “completely preventable. ” Landsberg also calls out smartphones and tech companies as “the ones that created this issue.”

The National Distracted Driving Coalition, which Landsberg is part of, is attempting to use data and technology to show the dangers of distracted driving and cellphone use on the road. Robyn Robertson, chief executive of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation and another member of the distracted driving coalition says the rationale is that “If we can’t show it’s a problem, then we can’t focus attention and resources on fixing it.”

On the importance of technology, Corey Woinarowicz believes that “Technology got us into this mess, and technology is going to have to get us out of this mess.” Woinarowicz is the chief revenue officer for NoCell Technologies, a system that seeks to limit or disable smartphones and other technologies while driving. The technology is useful for large or commercial fleets like Tesla that employ incentives to enforce safe driving among their workers to avoid being sued, although Elon Musk’s desire to use brain chip technology may soon make smartphones obsolete.

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson looking at a smartphone

The supposed epidemic of using smartphones impeding driving abilities may have some merit. Highway fatalities were up 22 percent to 46,000 in the U.S. in 2022. Although figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assert that 324,652 injuries and less than 10 percent of highway deaths were from distracted driving, The National Distracted Driving Coalition believes that the NHTSA may be grossly underestimating their numbers and believes the actual percentage lies between 25 percent to 30 percent.

Tracking these numbers is difficult for several reasons. For one, accident data collection methods differ between states and police departments. Many do not include smartphones or distracted driving on their report forms,  making these causes hard to cross-reference and tally effectively. In addition, there are market incentives for large corporations to maintain a veil over the exact numbers of people impacted by distracted driving due to smartphones. 

One of the biggest reasons is that drivers are often reluctant to admit that smartphone use while driving resulted in a crash, and unlike drug or alcohol use, it’s not something that can be proven without some video footage, which is highly unlikely. In cases where the driver and/or witnesses may have died or been injured in the crash and cannot provide testimony, it can be hard to ascertain that smartphones were directly involved in a driving accident. According to a recent poll, a large number of people use smartphones while driving.

77 percent of those who responded said they used their smartphone while driving, 74 percent used cellphone maps, and 56 percent read a text or email.

Until hovercrafts, land speeders, and other flying vehicles become available to the public, cars are commonly used in most people’s daily lives. In all, with highway deaths and smartphone use on the rise, drivers should be wary of distractions while driving and encourage others to do the same.