Distracted Driving a Growing Problem?
Your cell phone can wait until you pull over.
In the US, distracted driving has become a growing problem, and this is illustrated by the fact that the federal government even has a website called Distracted.gov to inform the public about the dangers. Because of tougher enforcement of DUI laws and safer cars, traffic fatalities were actually declining across the country in the last decade. However, distracted driving might almost be as bad as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol in terms of the number of lives it has impacted in a very negative way.
What is Distracted Driving?
Even though you might associate distracted driving with cell phone use, it is not really a new problem. Years ago, you might hear people tell you they got frustrated because they almost had an accident because another vehicle operator did not follow traffic rules. When they looked at the other car, they saw a man trying to read a map or a woman putting on makeup while they were operating a vehicle.
However, the growing popularity of cell phones and other electronics inside of cars has made this problem even worse. Many drivers would never dream of reading a book while they are driving, but they would read a text message on their phone. Of course, some of them would even attempt to send one back.
This is particularly true with young people who may tend to be more distracted and impulsive drivers in the best of situations. Even engaging in a conversation or trying to tune the radio can be distractions. However, using a cell phone or other electronic device to send text messages uses up more of a driver’s attention than either of these common distractions from the past, and the results are likely to be devastating.
These are some facts about distracted driving in the U.S.:
- It is estimated that 421,000 people were injured in serious crashes that involved a distracted driver.
- For drivers under 20, an estimated 10 percent of fatal accidents involved distracted driving.
- While sending a text message, eyes are off the road for an average of 5 seconds, and that is enough time for a car to cover the length of a football field when it is traveling at 55 mph.
Is Your Teen Responding to Text Message While Driving? Are You?
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported on some alarming statistics about both teen and adult drivers. Almost 25 percent of teen drivers say they have responded to a text message one or more times while driving almost every time they drive. Twenty percent of teens and ten percent of adults say they have engaged in text conversations while driving.
Cell Phones are Not the Only Source of Distracted Driving
Using cell phones to hold a conversation or respond to a text message seems to be a major villain. But paying attention to other electronics, even those installed in a car, can also distract drivers enough to cause an accident. Drivers should never fiddle with the radio, adjust a GPS, or use any gadgets or gizmos while operating a vehicle. Other sources of distractions include eating, engaging in a heated conversation, grooming, or trying to read. Yes, there are people who read while they are driving.
Is it Illegal to Text While Driving?
The rules differ by state and by the type of driver. In Pennsylvania, for example, the state has a ban on sending text messages while driving. Some states may ban all types of handheld electronics and phones, but others may only ban use for drivers under age 21. In most states, phone use is banned in school zones. Commercial and government drivers may be banned from using any types of electronics while operating a vehicle.
Phones and Driving Don’t Mix
A driver does not have to cause an accident while breaking these laws in order to face serious consequences, but if he or she does cause an accident, the consequences will be much worse. The driver could even be charged with negligence, and this could be a criminal charge as bad as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
As parents, you need to protect your kids by just saying no to cell phone use while driving. For one thing, you are not setting a good example. You might tell them not to text while operating a vehicle, but if they see you doing it, they may assume it is really OK. Of course, the main reason not to do it is because it is very dangerous, and you could risk the safety of your family.
Philadelphia, PA Distracted Driving
If you or a family member has been injured or killed because of a distracted driving, and you live in the Greater Philadelphia Metro Area, please contact us as soon as possible. We want to make sure that you receive fair compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. We offer free legal consultations, and we may be able to handle your case on a contingency fee basis.