NEW YORK --- U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has released a new report estimating that nearly 100 teenagers were killed in the New York City area in just the past five years in accidents where the driver was found to be texting while driving.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly one out of every five car accidents occurred because the driver was found to be texting or using his or her cell phone. The greatest portion of those accidents involved drivers under the age of 20. Schumer said he is urging President Obama and his administration to back federal legislation that bans texting while driving.
"There are simply too many teenagers being killed in tragic accidents that are very often preventable," Schumer said. "Teen drivers tend to underestimate dangerous driving situations, and as a result, nearly 100 teens in this area alone have been killed as a result of texting while driving. My legislation, which bans this practice, will go a long way in saving young lives from unnecessary accidents."
Last December, Americans sent over 110 billion text messages. As technology has evolved and become more engrained in everyday lives, so have the number of ways people can now use their cell phones while driving. A study from the University of Utah showed that college students are eight times more likely to crash when texting while driving. The same study also found that drivers take their eyes off the road for about five seconds when texting. While that may not seem like a long time, cars can travel over 100 yards in that amount of time.
A study by Car and Driver Magazine found that texting while driving is actually more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, texting while driving has been especially dangerous for teenagers. A total of 16 percent of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.
In 2008, 5,870 people lost their lives and an estimated 515,000 people were injured in police-reported crashes in which at least one form of driver distraction was reported on the crash report. While these numbers are significant, they may not state the true size of the problem, since the identification of distraction and its role in the crash can be very difficult for law enforcement to determine.