We’ve all heard it before – “Don’t text and drive”, but do we really listen to our loved ones, teachers, or peers? Responses tend to vary from, “I can text and drive”, “I’m still paying attention to the road”, or “it won’t happen to me”. These are all thoughts many of us have – until it’s too late. Of all society’s dangers, one threat is significantly rising with the prevailing usage of smartphones: distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in every five car accidents that results in injury is caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving is more than texting while driving. Talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, looking for directions, putting on makeup, surfing the Internet, reading directions , or talking to other passengers falls into distracted driving. While driving distracted may not seem like a severe endangerment to public safety, it’s necessary for us to understand the gravity of its impact.
The CDC has separated distracted driving into three categories: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions draw a driver’s attention away from the road. Manual distractions are those that cause a driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Lastly, cognitive distractions take a driver’s mind off driving and the surrounding vehicles.
How can distracted driving evolve into a large-scale threat for both distracted drivers and innocent individuals? Let’s take into consideration how much distance is being covered on the road per second. Writing and sending a text message takes an average of five seconds. When driving at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to cover an entire football field. Close your eyes and count to five. Seems like a long time not to be looking at the road, right?
It is safe to assume that no one would voluntarily drive in such conditions; however, there are an extraordinary number of distracted driving incidents occurring daily in crowded, high velocity vehicular scenarios. Distracted driving related incidents are also highly likely to occur in parking lots, causing pedestrian accidents.
Unfortunately, the lack of attention while driving often causes injury-related, and even fatal accidents. According to a Vehicle Safety article released by Nationwide Insurance, 74% of survey participants admitted to texting-related activities while driving. Furthermore, one in every four car accidents that occur every day are due to driver distractions. Nine to fifteen fatal car accidents take place daily due to distracted driving, along with an additional 1,150 injury-related accidents.
Over half of our nation’s young drivers have either admitted to using their cell phone to text while driving or have been in the car with someone who has. Kids are now given cell phones at a young age, allowing them to grow up with their phones on them at all times. Teens also feel that they must respond to a notification within five minutes. This is something often joked about via Facebook or any other social media platform, but should actually be taken seriously. Ask your son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandchildren, etc., and they’ll know exactly what you mean. This creates a detrimental issue for teen drivers.
How can we fix this problem? Stay educated. Teach the younger generation the dangers of distracted driving and practice what you preach. Technology can also help by way of free apps that will disable messaging features when it detects you are driving over 10 miles per hour.
Our nation’s legislatures are helping to squash the epidemic of distracted driving. Texting and driving is banned in 45 states. Cell phone usage as a whole is banned in 38 states for drivers aged 18-21. In Georgia, distracted driving is prohibited for all drivers statewide. This includes texting while stopped at a red light. While states such as Alaska charge up to a $10,000 fine for distracted driving, Georgia charges a fine of $150 for the same offense.
Distracted driving is preventable. Almost all new cars come with a Bluetooth or hands-free setting to minimize physical cell phone usage on the road. Even if your car has these smart features, always pull over to make a call, send a message or take care of anything else that may interfere with your driving capabilities.
Thousands of car accidents happen each day due to driver negligence and almost half a million people in the US are injured or killed in a vehicular accident linked to texting and driving. If you or a loved one has suffered an accident or injury due to distracted driving, contact one of our attorneys at Hammers Law Firm today. As always, please keep your safety and the safety of those around you a priority.