According to an analysis of Kentucky State Police crash data, crashes involving distracted driving in Jefferson County and Louisville have increased, while statewide wrecks involving cell phones have dropped. In fact, the number of crashes and injuries in Jefferson County were at the highest they have been in a decade.
The spike in Louisville car crashes is blamed on cell phone use and other driver distractions. Although the exact numbers will not be available until summer 2013, the preliminary numbers for Jefferson County distracted driving accidents in 2012 are reported to be over 14,000, which is an increase from 2011 and a 65 percent increase from 2002.
Conversely, distracted driving accidents statewide reached their lowest level since 2008. State officials believe these numbers have dropped due to Kentucky’s cell phone law and the education that has been offered statewide to help reduce distracted driving. However, police believe the number of crashes involving driver distractions is higher than reported.
The three factors that Kentucky police use to define distracted driving are:
- Cell phone use
“The cellphone is probably the number one contributor to those accidents,” said Lt. Joe Seelye, commander of the Louisville Metro Police traffic unit.
Statewide, distracted driving accounted for 23 percent of traffic fatalities with 171 people killed as a result of cell phone use. Although this number seems high, it is the third year of decreasing distracted driving deaths in Kentucky. Kentucky State Police are helping to decrease fatalities by issuing citations to distracted drivers. In 2012, troopers issued 558 texting citations and made 60 arrests for distracted driving.
Sadly, this problem is not going away, and the number of text messages sent nationally continues to increase—jumping from 931 million in 2002 to 2.3 trillion in 2012.