Motorists who insist on using handheld cellphones while driving continue to take a deadly toll on those unfortunate enough to cross their paths.
The U.S. Transportation Department reports that 5,474 people were killed in 4,898 crashes caused by distraction in 2009, down slightly from the 5,838 killed in 5,307 crashes in 2008. In both years, distracted driving was a factor in 16 percent of all crashes and fatalities.
What possible excuse could someone have to endanger themselves and others in this way?
Funny you should ask. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, a Canadian auto insurance company, recently partnered with local police to find the answer.
Here are the top 10 excuses offered by recipients of some 3,500 tickets issued during a recent September crackdown:
1. This is a bogus law.
2. It was my boss on the phone -- I had to answer it.
3. I wasn't using it -- I just like to hold it.
4. Sorry officer, I didn't see you trying to pull me over because I was on my phone.
5. But it was an emergency call to my wedding planner.
6. My Bluetooth died.
7. Driver: I'm using my speakerphone. Police officer: No, you're holding your phone in one hand and steering with the other.
8. I'm not driving; I was stopped at a red light.
9. I wasn't talking, I was checking my messages.
10. I was just checking the time.
True story: an acquaintance of mine was driving home from work a couple years ago when an oncoming SUV veered across the center median and struck his vehicle head-on. The two vehicles were traveling at a combined speed of 110 miles per hour (see photo for results).
The steering wheel and airbag were thrown from his vehicle. My friend's legs wound up in the engine compartment. The force of the impact broke both of his legs and ankles as well as his wrist, nose and sinus bones. He lost 10 teeth and endured months in facial reconstruction and other surgeries. The other driver, who was texting at the time, suffered a broken ankle.
Forget auto insurance; texting and driving is a life-and-death matter.
Just don't do it.
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