March 6, 2013

Keeping an Eye on Distracted Driving

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Schools of Medicine (Dr Coben) and Public Health, Injury Control Research Center, West Virginia University (Drs Coben and Zhu), West Virginia University, Morgantown.

JAMA. 2013;309(9):877-878. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.491

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of injury morbidity and mortality in the United States, and distracted driving is an increasing problem. From 2005 to 2009, despite considerable declines in overall crash-related fatalities, fatalities associated with driver distraction increased by 22%.1 In 2003, cell phone use while driving was estimated to cause 333 000 total injuries, 12 000 serious to critical injuries, and 2600 fatalities annually.2 A more recent analysis concluded that increasing texting volumes was estimated to result in more than 16 000 additional motor vehicle–related fatalities from 2001 to 2007.3 These concerns have led to an increasing number of educational and legislative efforts to reduce handheld phone use and texting while driving. This Viewpoint suggests that these efforts are inadequate and that new technological and regulatory approaches are needed.

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