There was an interesting article by Jane Brody in the New York Times on April 12, 2011 regarding distracted driving. Tragic stories of devastating injuries and fatal accidents due to distracted drivers are discussed, certainly a fear of all drivers and particularly those with teenage children closing in on obtaining their driver's licenses and learning permits. In my experience, texting while driving seems to be more prevalent than ever despite efforts by the New York State DMV to increase the penalties for the infraction, which would include enhanced fines and points for what previously has been a "no-points" ticket.
The U.S Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, introduced a website named "Faces Of Distracted Driving" at distraction.gov/faces which gives examples of fatal accidents suffered by innocent victims of those who attempt to drive while texting, shaving, applying mascara or tending to their children, for example. According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million accidents are caused annually by drivers using cell phones or texting, which is 28% of the total accidents. The articles also cites the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report in 2008 that 1 of 6 fatal car crashes in 2008 was due to distracted driving,
I found it very enlightening that a University of Utah study suggests that even conversations with hands free phones are just as distracting as hand held conversations, because the drivers become caught up in their conversations, resulting in "inattention blindness." Dr. Berry, a professor of orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota was quoted as saying: "Just the act of being on the phone distracts you from the task at hand--driving...your mind is somewhere else. It's not in the car. You're driving mechanically but not seeing the same way. It's different from conversing with someone in the car." Having been in numerous serious conservations on the bluetooth in my own vehicle, there is definitely some truth to Dr. Berry's words.