Accidents caused by distracted drivers killed at least 5,800 and injured another 515,000 last year, according to data pulled from police reports and presented today to Transportation Department conference on the issue. The actual figures may be significantly higher, say Transportation officials, since distraction is often hard to identify as a cause of a crash. Congress is considering laws that would limit what drivers can do behind the wheel, Reuters reports.
A ban on text-messaging has widespread support, but a cell phone ban is more controversial. While overall accidents fell last year, distracted driving was a growing cause, implicated in 16% of cases, up from 11% in 2004. Roughly 6% of drivers used their phones while driving in 2007, and another 1% texted on some other device.