April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It’s not an exaggeration to say that distracted driving is creating daily life and death situations on our roads and highways. People are doing way too many things behind the wheel of their cars other than driving, and the victims are piling up. U.S. Department of Transportation records show that distracted driving—including texting, cell phone use and internet use—caused more than 5,400 deaths and 550,000 crashes in 2009 alone. Even more disturbing, the National Safety Council reports that there are more than 160,000 driving and cell phone-related crashes so far in 2013, with more than 15 deaths and 1,200 injuries occurring each day.
When did drivers get so casual about being behind the wheel of a car? It seems people are more concerned about their telephone conversation than safely merging into the fast lane during rush hour traffic. The latest sports update is more important than noticing and stopping for the school bus unloading children in front of you. Is that instant communication more important than your life? More important than the life of your passengers and fellow drivers?
“No email, no text, no update, no call is worth a human life,” says Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairwoman.
Federal and states governments have enacted laws to try to combat the growing epidemic of distracted driving. Kentucky and Indiana both have laws which ban texting for all drivers. Both states also ban any cell phone use for drivers under age 18. Federal employees are prohibited from texting while driving when on government business, and federal law also forbids commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving as well.
The primary cause of distracted driving comes from electronic devices but these are not the only distractions. Ever seen someone driving next to you and reading a book? Applying makeup? Eating a meal? How about turning around to hand something to their child? Changing a radio channel or CD? The NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) identify three different kinds of distractions:
The Becker Law Office cares about your safety and the safety of the roads on which we all travel each day. Here are a few common sense tips to help prevent distracted driving:
And if you feel you must use an electronic device while driving, please pull off the road and do so safely once you’ve stopped. The life you end up saving may be your own!