New numbers show cell phone use while driving on rise

Posted at: 08/20/2013 2:12 PM
Updated at: 08/20/2013 6:02 PM
By: Pat Taney

New numbers show an increase in accidents caused by cell phone use behind the wheel. In just the past seven months, there have been 23 crashes involving handheld electronic devices in the Rochester area alone.

Those numbers don't surprise safety experts with Triple AAA, especially when it comes to teens. Many teens still don't see the danger of using these behind the wheel and they're not afraid to admit it either.

Forty-five percent of teens in a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control say they've used a handheld device while behind the wheel in the last 30 days.

AAA driving instructor Mike Formanowicz says it has increased year after year.

Formanowicz said, “Fewer people see it as a problem and even more people have admitted to doing so and that's despite a major marketing blitz, increased police patrols and warnings like this. Most people don't realize the ground you cover in a quick period of time. So if I send a text here, one thousand one, two, three, now I look up three seconds, that's 270 feet, that's almost the length of a football field and all I wrote was 'hi' and hit send.”

As for one teen, who considers himself part of the majority, he realizes it is time to cut back.

Teen said, “It is pretty scary. I'll admit that. I don't do it as much as I used to for sure.”

The problem of teens texting behind the wheel is big in New York State. A new anti-texting law passed in July suspends the driving privileges of those with a permit or junior license for 60 days if they're caught using a handheld device while driving.