There's a video going around. It's Volkswagen's contribution to the anti-texting message. The line toward the end of the video reads:
"Mobile Use Is Now The Leading Cause of Death Behind the Wheel"
For most of us, that comes as no surprise. And, as National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman says,
"The good news is that accidents caused by distractions are preventable if everyone would just hang up and drive."
But is that really true? First, let's have a look at how texting activity has grown.
People naturally assume that with the burgeoning use of cell phones in recent years, the number of overall crashes must be rising as well. Strange as it may seem, however, the number of crashes and fatalities overall have steadily declined, in spite of the exponential growth of cell phone use and text-messaging. Let's consider some data. Don't worry; it's not that math-y. In this case, the statistics belie the anecdotal assumptions:
So, what are we to conclude? Can it really be true that mobile phone use is the leading cause of death behind the wheel? Given the exponential growth of text messaging, and the steady decline in car crashes and related fatalities over the same time period, there can only be one explanation: a miracle of enormous proportions has occurred. For some inexplicable reason, there has been a miraculous decrease in all other causes of crashes and related deaths.
Not only have all other causes of crashes and related death decreased dramatically, but they did so in such a manner as to completely offset — indeed, MORE than offset — the billions upon billions of texts being sent every year.
That means, for every texting-while-driving-related crash or fatality, there is one or more other behavior that did not cause a crash or fatality. It's like the Car-Crash Gods saw all this texting and all the crashes it was causing (remember, the LEADING cause of death behind the wheel) and said amongst themselves: "This is a problem. This is a threat to The Delicate Balance. We risk going way over our allotted car-crash-related death quota. Something must be done as a counter-measure to all this texting. We must intervene in order to maintain The Delicate Balance."
And so the Car-Crash Gods get busy, miraculously mitigating the effects of all the other factors that have heretofore been the causes of crashes.
Either that, or maybe the media has once again engaged in scare-mongering, and car manufacturers have jumped on the proverbial band-wagon as a marketing ploy. But then again, the Car-Crash Gods think I'm a cynic.
Here's a link to a more extended and statistical treatment of this topic:
And here's the aforementioned video, if you're interested.