The danger of distracted driving
We’ve all seen the following at some point: an individual weaving in and out of their lane, speeding, and disobeying other rules of the road. It seems as though they might be drunk, but open passing them, you can see that the person is talking or texting on their phone.
Over the past year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has worked to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving and lobby for tougher legislation against those that use their cell phone while behind the wheel. Distracted driving, according to DistractedDriving.gov, is any activity that takes a person’s attention away from driving: texting, talking on the phone, browsing the Internet, eating, using maps or a navigation system, adjusting the radio, and even talking to passengers. All of these behaviors, while common, can be deadly.
According to a recent Forbes article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that over 3,000 deaths in 2010 were caused at least in part by distracted driving. In addition to the NHSTA’s report, other research has shed more light on distracted driving and the car accidents that it can potentially cause. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teenage girls were two times more likely to use cell phones and other electronic devices than teenage boys. National Transportation Board vice chairman Christopher Hart cited research stating that voice control is just as distracting as using a handheld device when petitioning New York state lawmakers to “extend the state law banning the use of cell phones to include all portable electronic devices.”
Despite efforts on the part of safety advocates and lawmakers, the distracted driving problem has not yet been eradicated. In fact, it will likely only get worse, opines the Forbes article. In order to lure in new buyers, car companies have unveiled technology allowing consumers to connect to the Internet in their car via their phone or pre-installed car features. While automakers insist that “safety comes first,” they also don’t want to lose out on potential business by opting out of connectivity features. Additionally, consumers whose cars do not have these connectivity features can simply use their handheld devices anyway.
The personal injury attorneys at Heiting & Irwin Attorneys At Law too often see the devastation that a distracted driving-related car accident can cause. Beyond the 3,000 deaths reported by the NHTSA, there are likely innumerable injuries–including burns, broken bones, brain damage, paralysis, and other disabling injuries–and close calls associated with a driver texting or talking behind the wheel. To prevent an accident, always wait until you are not driving to use any handheld device. If someone on the road near you is driving distractedly and erratically, respond by taking extra care and driving defensively.