Report: Cellphones not the leading cause in distracted-driving crashes

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 4/24/2014

Cellphones rank third on the list of causes in crashes in which distracted-driving is cited as a factor, a law enforcement report out of Arizona shows. The Arizona Highway Patrol says “outside distractions” are the leading cause in distracted-driving crashes, and “reaching for objects” ranks second.

The Highway Patrol examined 10,166 crashes on state highways during a period from November 2013 through April 1, 2014, and found that 1,163, or 11 percent, were related to distracted driving. The Highway Patrol reported 10 highway traffic fatalities and 380 injuries during that timeframe.

Outside distractions were cited in 255 of the crashes, while reaching for objects was cited in 130 crashes. Cellphone use ranked a close third, named as a cause in 127 crashes.

An enforcement blitz from April 10 to April 15 showed similar percentages, according to a Highway Patrol press release.

The Arizona report does not specify how many of the crashes involved commercial vehicles.

Federal laws initiated in 2010 prohibit texting while driving for operators of commercial vehicles. The use of hand-held electronic devices while driving a commercial vehicle is also prohibited. Hands-free operation of a device is allowed with limitations.

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation website,, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012.

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