Yes, Smartphone Use Is Probably Behind the Spike in Driving Deaths. So Why Isn’t More Being Done to Curb It?

The U.S. has seen a 14-percent spike in roadway fatalities over the past two years. It’s also seen the biggest back-to-back increase in motor vehicle–related death rates per mile driven in more than 50 years and 37,461 lives lost by drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians in 2016 alone. What’s to blame? Many experts, writers, and organizations are pointing to smartphone use and other tech-related distractions while driving as major culprits. Official statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation seemingly counter this claim, attributing only about 9 percent of traffic deaths to distracted driving in general and far fewer to phone use specifically. In fact, the DOT stats suggest that even that minuscule percentage attributed to phone use has dropped over the past year.