In the month of June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received. Many of these were by distracted divers of cars, trucks, or tractor-trailers. All too often, distracted driving is leading to accidents and severe injuries for both the distracted drivers and their victims. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, while more than 400,000 more were injured. Distracted driving accounted for 18% of all car and truck accidents in 2010.
Distracted driving is generally any activity that has the potential of diverting a driver’s attention away from the primary task of operating their vehicle. A distraction of any sort is a potential threat and can result in the death of the driver, the passenger, and innocent bystanders.
Distracted driving includes:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Using a Smartphone to email or surf the web
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Looking in the mirror for shaving or putting on makeup
- Using a GPS navigation system
- Adjusting music volume or tuning the radio
Of all of the above, texting is considered the most harmful since it simultaneously requires the visual, manual, and cognitive attention of the driver. On average, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, a vehicle will travel the length of a football field during that amount of time.
Because it is so dangerous, thirty-seven states have now made texting and driving illegal. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has also taken action. Federal employees are prohibited from texting when driving government-owned vehicles or when using their private vehicles for government business. Commercial truck and bus drivers are prohibited from texting and using hand-held cell phones while driving. Also, drivers of vehicles carrying explosive or hazardous materials and railway employees operating trains are strictly prohibited from using electronic devices and texting.
We each have a role to play in helping prevent distracted driving deaths. Share with family and friends these alarming statistics, and let them know that you won’t be texting them back while you’re driving and that you hope they will do the same. If you are the parent of a teen driver your role is even more important. Teenage drivers are the most at risk when it comes to texting and driving. Talk to your teenagers about the consequences. Tell them that texting and driving is wrong and very dangerous, just like drinking and driving is wrong. You can have your teen take a pledge committing to be a safe, distraction free driver. Find the pledge at http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-involved/teens.html.
You can even promote distracted driving safety in your community by arranging seminars or distributing posters, flyers, and banners. Try hosting an event at your school or in your neighborhood. If you are interested in helping this cause, visit www.60forsafety.org to learn more. For additional information about distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov.
As distracted driving is a prevalent problem across the nation, these types of accidents are unfortunately very likely to occur and can have devastating results for anyone involved. Louisville distracted driving accident attorney Tad Thomas is committed to helping victims of distracted driving crashes obtain the compensation they need to recover and hold any-at fault parties responsible.