The University of North Texas Health Science Center has published a new study that says "distracted driving" deaths will only continue to rise, which is in direct opposition to figures that were just released by the US Department of Transportation. The study, which is getting posted in the American Journal of Public Health, looked at the number of distracted driving fatalities from 1999 to 2008. It did not factor in recent figures.
For the 10-year period, researchers took factors from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which catalogs data on every road fatality in the US. According to that research, they attributed 16,000 deaths on texting behind the wheel from 2001 to 2007. The study goes on further to say distracted driving fatalities have increased 28% from 2005 to 2008, causing researchers to push for drastic legislative enactments.
But this study happens to come out just as the Department of Transportation reports a *decrease* in the number of distracted driving deaths. It has fallen 6% over the last year despite virtually no new legislation banning the use of cell phones while driving. There is also nothing in the study to suggest anything other than a continued increase in the number of related deaths. Yet that is exactly what the case has become. And, the level of texting has only continued to rise which puts into dispute the study's basic premise: that there is a correlation between texting volumes and distracted driving fatalities.
We have sent a request for comment to a lead researcher in the University of North Texas study and are awaiting a response.