April 21, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

March Crash Report Card

There have been two fatality crashes in Springfield during the first three months of 2009, which is unchanged from the same period last year. Injury crashes increased by 4 percent, while total crashes decreased by 2 percent compared to the same period last year. There were 1,671 total crashes through the first three months of the year. Traffic crash statistics are tracked by the Public Works Department.

Download the March 2009 Crash Report Card

APRIL SAFETY MESSAGE

DWI: Driving While Intexticated?

Great strides have been made during the last ten years to raise consciousness about the hazards associated with driving when drunk or under influence of other drugs. However, studies have shown that there are other causes of driver distractions which can incapacitate drivers to a degree greater than driving under the influence, such as talking on a cell phone and even worse: text messaging while driving.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 80 percent of all crashes involve some kind of driver inattention within 3 seconds of the event. Cell phone usage is listed as the primary distracting activity while driving.

Another study, reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, collected data on 456 crashes that occurred due to inattention while using a cell phone. Researchers compared phone records and interviewed crash victims, finding that hands-free phones do not lessen the crash risk. The study also suggests that motorists who use cell phones are four times more likely to experience a crash with serious injuries than drivers who do not use their cell phone while driving. A four-fold increase in relative crash risk through cell phone usage is comparable to the risk produced by illegal levels of alcohol.  

When it comes to texting, the crash picture is even worse. Studies indicate that driver reactions are slowed by 35 percent — almost three times that of drunk drivers. In addition, the ability to steer a vehicle drops by more than 90 percent while texting compared to drivers who concentrate on the road.

Other studies suggest it takes on average three times longer to text while driving than it normally would; therefore by the time the message is being sent, a motorist may have traveled a mile or more along a roadway without concentrating on the primary task of driving.

The problem with texting while driving is significant enough that a new word has surfaced: “intexticated.” Last year, nine states considered legislation specifically banning texting while driving, and the state of Washington became the first to make it official, passing a law that took effect in January.

In Springfield, limited information obtained from 146 crash reports in 2008 indicates that cell phone usage is a significant contributor to crashes reported as inattention. Of these, 44 percent of the crashes are due to cell phone use. However, when considering that drivers may not always admit to cell phone use following a crash, it may be assumed that the actual number of cell phone related crashes in Springfield would be even higher.

city of springfield

Department of Public Works

840 Boonville Avenue • P.O. Box 8368 • Springfield, MO 65801
417-864-1900 • springfieldmo.gov