Twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cellphones or send text messages while driving, says a National Safety Council study reported by the Washington Post. The vast majority of those crashes, 1.4 million annually, are caused by cellphone conversations, and 200,000 are blamed on text messaging.
Federal officials unveiled a organization, patterned after Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that will combat driver cellphone use. The group, FocusDriven, grew out of a meeting on distracted driving sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Everyone’s addicted to their cellphone,” said FocusDriven’s president, Jennifer Smith, a Texan whose mother was killed by a man who ran a red light while talking on his cellphone. “That’s where we come in. We put a real, human face to it. We’re going to put the pressure on legislatures.” Enforcement of a texting ban requires officers to observe an act that usually is conducted in a driver’s lap, and hands-free devices make it possible to talk on cellphones without being observed.