May 04, 2012 10:27
A total of 140,000 traffic accidents were caused last year by drivers failing to keep their eyes on the road. That accounted for 63.1 percent of the total 221,711 traffic accidents that happened in 2011. Drivers often got distracted watching TV on their car navigation devices, using their mobile phones or dozing off.
Mobile phone use was blamed for 259 traffic accidents, but watching TV programs on navigation screens caused 110,000 accidents.
Accidents caused by distracted drivers increased from 110,000 cases in 2007, when car navigation devices were introduced in Korea, to 140,000 last year. The proportion to all accidents also rose from 61 percent to 63.1 percent. "There appears to be a close relationship between the increased use of mobile TV and mobile phones and the increase in car accidents caused by distracted drivers," a police spokesman said.
The number of accidents caused by drivers dozing off dropped from 2,686 in 2007 to 2,526 last year, but the number caused by other reasons, including drivers watching TV, rose from 100,000 to 117,531 over the same period. Car accidents caused by drivers using their mobile phones also rose from 201 to 259.
Some 3,334 people died last year in accidents caused by drivers failing to keep their eyes on the road, accounting for 63.7 percent of all traffic fatalities.
"Over the last few years there's been a sharp increase in the number of drivers using smartphones and other mobile devices, and this has increased the risk that they'll get distracted and cause an accident," said Shin Yong-kyun at the Korea Road Traffic Authority. "Public awareness is failing to keep up with technological developments."
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