Elected State LegislatorsSacramento, CA
Subject: SWITRS Data Documenting Accidents Involving“Inattention”,and Teen-involved Accidents--Questioning The NeedFor AdditionLegislation (SB33).
During the Spring of 2011, Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) introduced legislation toincrease the fines on “inattentive drivers”, which made its way successfully through the both house of the Legislature. However, from the various media reports on this new law,there did not seem to be any reference to Staff Reports, or CHP SWITR Reports, thatmight justify such legislation. Given that Gov. Brown has vetoed Simitian’s bill(Appendix B), this communication will not be useful in defeating this legislation, buthopefully the information, and the analysis provided, will be helpful in dealing withfuture legislation that involves California drivers.Comments attributed to Simitian (Appendix A), such as: “We know that driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes, and that cell phone use is the mostcommon distraction” should be buttressed by hard data from the SWITRS databases,common sense dictates. Are these claims actually true? Where is this data to prove theseclaims? This short paper provides much of this data, offering a different view of theworld from that proposed by Sen. Simitian.
The CHP SWITRS database provides raw data that can be analyzed to address this issueof “inattention”, and teen cell phone use. The material that follows, derived from theSWITRS data, provides an analysis of accidents over a fifteen year period that involved“Inattention” and “Teen Cell Phone” use. Additionally, as a “control point”, informationabout accidents involved Teens and Alcohol is provided.
Accidents Caused By Inattention
Traffic accidents are caused by any number of causes—with primary contributing factorsrange from “unsafe speed” to “falling asleep”. “Inattention” is but one of the manysecondary causes.The table below lists the number of accidents, on a yearly basis from 1995-2009, showingthe “inattention” data, and the “cell phone involved” data:A
ccidents Possibly Caused By “Inattention” (1995-2009)