Have you ever looked away from the road for a moment to read a text, use your navigation system or type a email, only to look up and find yourself staring down the brake lights of the driver in front of you? If you are like many of us, you have experienced a “close call” because of distracted driving more than once in recent memory.
While distracted driving has been around since the Model T, our growing reliance on cell phones, ipads and navigational systems has greatly contributed to distracted driving, and with dangerous outcomes. Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,060 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
There are three main types of distracted driving: visual (taking one’s eyes off of the road), manual (taking one’s hands off of the wheel) and cognitive (taking one’s mind away from driving), all of which can endanger the driver and others. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. The federal agency reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent — when traveling at 55 mph — of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.
The problem is serious and widespread. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. In 2010, nearly one in five crashes (18%) in which someone was injured involved distracted driving. Additionally, 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. Additionally, 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.
Statistics show that younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20, are at the greatest risk for distracted driving. For one, younger people are more likely to text and drive. The CDC reports that nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 or older text or email while driving. Secondly, with less driving experience, younger drivers are more likely to suffer serious injuries and death from distracted driving.
In order to combat the problem, many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers—to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment. In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.
What can you do? Take a pledge by going to http://www.itcanwait.com/pledge and ask all driving members of your household to take the pledge. If you are victim of a distracted driver, the law firm of Jinks, Crow & Dickson, PC can assist you. Contact Jinks, Crow & Dickson, PC today for a free case evaluation. Or call us in Montgomery or Union Springs at 888-297-9592.