More die from syphilis than from texting and driving

The number of fatal instances of syphilis outpaced the number of fatal auto accidents caused by text messaging while driving, according to 2011 data from the Centers for Disease Control and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2011, 45 Americans died as a result of syphilis. There were 39 fatal driving accidents as a result of texting and driving. Though it is not known exactly how many people died from those instances, this comparison provides another example of the overblown "war on distracted driving."

Approximately 350 of the 29,757 fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2011 — 1.1 percent of all fatal crashes — were attributed to cell phone use by the driver of a motor vehicle, as pointed out in a blog post by TheDCAutoGeek. Such activities included talking or listening to a cell phone (114 fatal instances), a category that includes "reaching for a cell phone" (218), and text messaging while driving (39).

Approximately 21,000 Americans in 2011 were injured as a result of cell-phone induced crashes, representing 5.4 percent of all distracted driving accidents and 0.9 percent of all auto accidents, according to NHTSA.

Alcohol is still the No. 1 cause of fatal auto accidents. Despite all the media attention on text messaging and phone use behind the wheel, distractions such as daydreaming, eating and talking still comprise the greatest number of distracted driving crashes.

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