April 22, 2013

News Release

For Immediate Release

Crash Report Card: Fatality Crashes Up Over Last Year

The City of Springfield Public Works Department has released the November 2012 Crash Report Card revealing crashes that occurred Jan. 1 – Nov. 30, 2012. There were 19 fatality crashes (killing 22 people) through November of last year, compared to eight fatality crashes in the same time period in 2011.

Through November 2012 there were 6334 crashes reported, which is 212 less crashes than in the same period in 2011. There were 1676 injury crashes - 131 less crashes than were reported in that time period of the previous year.

Cell phone usage continues to be major cause of crashes.

Great strides have been made over the last ten years to raise consciousness regarding the hazards associated with driving when drunk or under influence of other drugs. However, studies have shown that talking on a cell phone and even worse, text messaging, can incapacitate drivers to a much greater degree than driving under the influence.

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

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. An additional 387,000 people were injured in America. Studies also suggest 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 worse. Studies indicate that driver reactions are slowed by 35%, almost three times as that for drunk drivers. In addition, the ability to steer a vehicle drops by over 90% while texting compared to drivers who concentrate on the road.

Other studies suggest that 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'. Currently, 39 states ban texting for all drivers. Further, 10 states ban using handheld cell phones while driving altogether,” says Mandy Buettgen, senior engineering technician in the Public Works Department's Traffic Operations Division.

In Springfield, information obtained from 199 crash reports reported within the most recent 12-month period available, indicates that of all crashes that are listed with specific types of inattention as a contributing circumstance, 33% are due to cell phone usage.

"However, when considering that drivers may not always admit to cell phone use following a crash investigation, it is possible the actual number of cell phone-related crashes in Springfield is higher," Buettgen explains.

For more information, visit www.distraction.gov and www.nsc.org/safety_road/distracted_driving or contact Mandy Buettgen in Traffic Operations at 864-1801.

city of springfield

Department of Public Works

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