At Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP, our Whittier auto accident attorneys recently discussed how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is projecting the highest number of traffic crash fatalities on U.S. roadways since 2005.

With traffic crash fatalities up 22% and estimated at approximately 46,000 in the U.S. last year, the Los Angeles Times released a study citing distracted driving as a leading cause of many of these crashes.

Our Los Angeles County car accident lawyers know that distracted driving crashes lead to more than the tragic losses of lives. According to a lead official with the National Transportation Safety Board, “Everybody talks about fatalities, but there are hundreds of thousands or more life-altering injuries — broken limbs, brain injuries, horrible burns. This doesn’t have to happen. These crashes are not accidents. They are completely preventable.”

The problem is, the data collection associated with distracted driving is riddled with problems, making reliable crash estimates difficult to attain. Here is why.

Why Are Distracted Driving Accidents, Injuries, and Fatalities Difficult to Quantify?

The most recent figures available from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that of the 46,000 traffic fatalities reported last year, 3,522 were due to distracted driving.

Among experts in the field, NHTSA’s numbers are widely regarded as gross underestimates.

Conversely, it is relatively easy to figure out whether negligence played a role in a crash, as a speeding or impaired driver is easier to identify, and typically a clear-cut cause.

Distracted driving is rarely as obvious, and proving someone was using a cellphone can be complicated, as drivers are reluctant to admit that they were using their cellphones before a crash.

In 2021, the National Distracted Driving Coalition (NDDC) was formed to create a traffic safety culture of attentive drivers by redoubling efforts to fix the data problem to help persuade cellphone makers, motor vehicle manufacturers, software companies, lawmakers, and distracted drivers themselves that the problem constitutes a public health crisis.

The NDDC estimates the actual number of distracted driving fatalities on U.S. roadways lies between 25% to 30% of the total, but no one can say for sure.

The group believes the lack of reliable distracted driving crash, injury, and fatality estimates is partially the result of the country’s car crash data system being created decades ago, which has not kept up with technological progress.

To combat the issues, they are seeking ways to take advantage of new technologies, including machine learning to better measure the prevalence of distracted driving on U.S. highways and to make serious efforts to reduce it.

Contact Our California Car Accident Attorneys For Help Today

In the meantime, while the technology catches up, if you have been injured in a crash caused by distracted driving in California, contact our experienced auto accident attorneys in Whittier at Hanning & Sacchetto today by calling (562) 698-6446 to schedule a free consultation, where we can help build your case by learning more about how it occurred.