Talking and texting on cells phones is a likely reason why the proportion of nighttime fatal crashes involving drivers 16 to 19 years old increased 10 percent between 1999 and 2008, says a U.S. study.
Texas Transportation Institute researchers analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Reporting System and found that the total number of fatal crashes dropped between 1999 and 2008. However, the percentage of crashes that occurred at night increased, the AP reported.
There were 4,322 fatal crashes in 2008 involving drivers ages 16 to 19, and 2,148 (nearly 50 percent) of them were at night. In 1999, nighttime crashes accounted for 45 percent of the overall 6,368 fatal crashes involving drivers in that age group.
Nighttime crashes accounted for 18,601 of the 44,803 fatal crashes in 2008 involving drivers ages 20 to 97, compared with 18,899 of 48,991 fatal crashes in 1999, the AP reported.
Alcohol use is the primary reason for the proportional increase in nighttime crashes among drivers ages 20 to 97, but driver distraction caused by talking and texting on cell phones is the likely cause among younger drivers, the study authors said.