Smartphones are killing Americans or something

“Jennifer Smith doesn’t like the term ‘accident.’ It implies too much chance and too little culpability. A ‘crash’ killed her mother in 2008, she insists, when her car was broadsided by another vehicle while on her way to pick up cat food. The other driver, a 20-year-old college student, ran a red light while talking on his mobile phone, a distraction that he immediately admitted and cited as the catalyst of the fatal event,” Kyle Stock, Lance Lambert, and David Ingold report for Bloomberg. “‘He was remorseful,’ Smith, now 43, said. “He never changed his story.””

“Yet in federal records, the death isn’t attributed to distraction or mobile-phone use. It’s just another line item on the grim annual toll taken by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration [NHTSA]—one of 37,262 that year,” Stock, Lambert, and Ingold report. “Three months later, Smith quit her job as a realtor and formed, a nonprofit lobbying and support group. Her intent was to make the tragic loss of her mother an anomaly.”

“To that end, she has been wildly unsuccessful. Nine years later, the problem of death-by-distraction has gotten much worse,” Stock, Lambert, and Ingold report. “Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent. In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade. Regulators, meanwhile, still have no good idea why crash-related deaths are spiking… Out of NHTSA’s full 2015 dataset, only 448 deaths were linked to mobile phones—that’s just 1.4 percent of all traffic fatalities… There are many reasons to believe mobile phones are far deadlier than NHTSA spreadsheets suggest. Some of the biggest indicators are within the data itself. In more than half of 2015 fatal crashes, motorists were simply going straight down the road—no crossing traffic, rainstorms, or blowouts.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The “Smartphones are killing Americans” portion of this article’s headline is Bloomberg’s. The proper title would be: Distracted driving and poor/no patience, impulse control, self-control and willpower are killing Americans.

Smartphones don’t kill people. People kill people.

When driving, pay attention to driving. You’re piloting tons of metal and glass. Just think about how much you’d rue the day that some stupid Facebook/Instagram/etc. post or text message causes you to main or kill somebody or somebodies. Pull over or – gasp! – wait until you’re not driving and it’s safe to post/text.

And, no, limiting device functionality by accelerometer is not a solution.

Class action lawsuit demands Apple install texting and driving safeguards; seeks to halt all iPhone sales in California – January 18, 2017
Apple sued by parents who claim FaceTime caused 5-year-old daughter’s Christmas Eve death – December 29, 2016


  1. Stay off your damn smart phone while driving you idiot!!!!! I’d like to know how we survived 25 years or so ago without these smart phones? I didn’t have one and did okay without it. Hell, I didn’t know their was such a thing. LOL Smart Phones are ok to have when used with common sense. Just like texting and driving. Their have been a number of people getting killed doing that. It all comes down to personal responsibly for ones actions. That young man should be put in Prison IMO…..

    1. Actually there is no single age group to blame. Deaths are up across the board. Contrary to what the Bloomberg article wants to blame, the data says distracted driving deaths are down. The biggest contributor is that the economy is better and people are driving more. More driving equals more deaths. Also, when the economy is better and gas is cheap, people are driving those miles faster. Yes, higher average speeds, leads to more deaths.

  2. ““Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent.”

    That’s after hitting a historical low in 2014. The NHTSA report states that fatalities due to distracted driving is down, but this Bloomberg article is trying to read between the lines, stating that many distracted driving deaths aren’t reported as such. That’s fine, but that error of underreporting is generally going to be consistent over the years.

    So, the question is why is there a spike in overall deaths in the last 2 years? Bloomberg believes it’s due to distracted driving, but that doesn’t explain the spike in the last 2 yrs. Cellphone use has been going on for years now. It didn’t spike 2 yrs ago, so the spike is totally uncorrelated to cellphone use.

    This past year, deaths are up 5.6%, and 40% of that is due to increased miles being driven. That’s the single biggest contributor to the increase.

    1. Exactly. Forget the facts, if you have an agenda just pull out your handy copy of “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff, Irving Geis – should get the job done.

      I can only guess people are down voting you because you are debating the increase in fatalities correlation fallacy. However there certainly appear to be more distracted drivers on the road regardless.

    1. I know, I know, it’s a seemingly trite, bromidic bumpersticker mantra, but hey, Nancy Reagan’s, “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign, applies here. Truly, I look at my phone in my cup holder announcing a new text msg and I just “say no” I’ll get it when I stop. Impulse control, that’s all.

  3. Funny how much this sounds exactly like the gun debate.

    “Smartphones kill people.”

    “Personal Responsibility.”

    “…It would be interesting to know which age group of drivers are causing the spike in driving deaths due to distraction..”

    ““Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged…”

    Next they will be calling for bans on certain options like music in the car, verbal assistants, GPS, large screens. Someone will be asking, “Why do you need that big screen in your vehicle?” They will insist that all you really need is a flip phone that only shows the number you are calling, and only works while the car is stationary.

    Looks like someone is going to have to start the NMPA (National Mobile Phone Association).

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