Texting while driving likely caused more than 16,000 road fatalities between 2002 and 2007, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The study, which public safety officials say is yet yet another wake-up call about the dangers of cellphone use in automobiles, was released Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health. It comes on the heels of the US Department of Transportation's second annual Distracted Driving Summit, during which Secretary Ray LaHood called for even more action to combat what he called a “unsafe, irresponsible, [and] devastating” behavior.
LaHood said distracted driving is “an epidemic because everyone has a cellphone–and everyone thinks they can use it while driving. They can't.” While attention to distracted driving has increased over the past year, firm numbers on texting-related deaths have been hard to pin down. Federal agencies collect data on fatalities caused by “distracted driving,” which can include anything from talking on a cellphone to eating in the car. Although there have been laboratory and observational studies that have estimated the impact of cellphone usage while driving, there has been no way to tease out exactly how many crashes are caused by texting – or cellphone use overall.