U.S. Withheld data on Risks of Distracted Driving
In 2003, researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000 drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel. They sought the study based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing threat on America’s roadways.
But such an ambitious study never happened. And the researchers’ agency, the National Highway Safety Administration, decided not to publish research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers, in part, because of concerns about angering Congress.
Critics say that the failure of the Transportation Department to more vigorously pursue distracted driving has cost lives and allowed to blossom a culture of behind-the-wheel multitasking.
“We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up,” said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety.
The highway safety researchers estimated that cellphone use by drivers caused around 955 fatalities and 240,000 accidents in 2002.
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