Texting and cell phone use has led to a significant rise in fatalities due to distracted driving, says a new study from the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers studied trends in distracted driving fatalities and their relation to cell phone use and texting volume. They did so through the Fatality Analysis Reporting System which records data on all road fatalities that occurred on public roads in the United States from 1999 to 2008. After a reported drop from 1999 to 2005, fatalities from distracted driving increased 28 percent after 2005, rising from 4,572 fatalities to 5,870 in 2008. The study reports that crashes increasingly involved male drivers and collisions with roadside obstructions in urban areas. Researchers estimated that increasing texting volumes resulted in more than 16,000 additional road fatalities from 2001 to 2007.

"Our results suggested that recent and rapid increases in texting volumes have resulted in thousands of additional road fatalities in the United States. Legislation enacting texting bans should be paired with effective enforcement to deter drivers from the use of handheld devices while driving. Requiring standard new-car options such as Bluetooth or other automobile technologies that inhibit handheld cell phone use should also be considered," the study's authors advocate.

From: "Trends in Fatalities from Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008."

Source - The American Journal of Public Health