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US stock market daily report (March 26, 2014, Wednesday)

March 27, 2014, Thursday, 05:51 GMT | 01:51 EST | 10:21 IST | 12:51 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders

According to an annual survey released Tuesday from the National Safety Council, a non-profit organization in Itasca, Illinois - Injury Facts - cellphone use is estimated to be involved in 26% of all motor vehicle crashes, up from 25% previous year. Per the report, while texting or checking status updates have been blamed for an increase in vehicle accidents, this is not the case, per the report. The survey shows that 21% of vehicle accidents were attributed to drivers talking on hand-held or hands-free cellphones while nearly 5% of vehicle crashes were attributed to texting while driving. The report proves that, regardless of increased warnings of cellphone usage while driving being a potentially deadly combination, the situation is worsening. Many drivers refuse to take heed and avoid cell phone usage all together, while driving.

According to David Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives at the NSC, drivers using cellphones fail to see up to 50% of the information in their environment even though the risk of being involved in a crash while texting and driving, is getting worse.

Bus drivers, commercial truck drivers, train engineers and drivers are federally banned from cellphones usage - drivers of cars or passenger trucks are under no federal ban.

Hand-held cellphone usage bans currently exist in 12 states including California, New Jersey, New York and Oregon as well as the District of Columbia. Explicit bans on texting include the District of Columbia plus 42 states. In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. The first state to pass a hand-held cellphone usage ban was New York in 2001. Novice drivers are banned from cellphone usage in 37 states and D.C. School bus drivers are prohibited from cell phone usage in 20 states and D.C.

Kara Macek, communications director at the Governors Highway Safety Association, a non-profit association in Washington, D.C. representing state highway safety offices across the country said, “Intuitively, texting has more elements of distraction because you’re looking away from the road, but people are more comfortable talking on the phone and probably do it more often. “We suspect a lot of this data is also underreported simply because people will not own up to the fact that they were distracted and caused a crashed.”

According to the National Safety Council, the calculable costs of motor-vehicle crashes are wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage and employers’ uninsured costs. During 2012, one automobile fatality costs nearly $1.4 million, while each non-fatal disabling injury cost approximately $79,000.

According to a survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of drivers texting or manipulating their devices increased from 0.9% in 2010 to 1.3% in 2011 however, driver hand-held cellphone use remained steady at 5% - potentially due to lack of enforcement. Experts say that while drunk driving carries heavy fines plus jail time, cellphone violations - with such potentially dangerous results - are treated with much more leniently. Terry Williams, a spokesman for the NTSB said, “It’s on our most-wanted list of transportation-safety improvements.”

Cellphone usage ban in commercial vehicles came about after a numerous crashes involving cellphones. On July 7, 2010 a tugboat and barge collided with a passenger vessel on the Delaware River, resulting in the death of two tourists. NTSB cited the tugboat driver’s use of his cellphone and company laptop as contributors to the incident.

On March 26, 2010, a Freightliner truck-tractor crossed lanes, collided with a van that caught fire resulting in the death of nine passengers in the van. NTSB identified distracting cellphone use by the driver, as a cause of the accident.

In Spain during July 2013, the driver of a train that derailed, causing the death of 79 people and injuring many others, was talking on his cellphone while the train was moving 119 mph at the time which was over twice the recommended speed on that stretch of track, according to the court.

On Friday September 12, 2008 a Los Angeles Metrolink train collided with a Union Pacific freight train resulting in the death of 25 people - the engineer driving the commuter train had sent a text message about 22 seconds before the crash occurred, per NTSB. Per the report, the engineer was “Distracted from his duties, he did not stop the train and collided head-on with the approaching freight train.” The report includes that the engineer had a history of using his cellphone for personal communications while on duty. This accident was a direct result of the Federal Railroad Administration banning railroad employees from using cellphones and electronic devices while on the job.