Every Day Should Be Distraction-Free Driving Day

Did you know that last month, the Pikeville Police Department was awarded a $5,000 grant by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Highway Safety to crack down on distracted driving in the area?
Special patrols were added across the state aimed at catching distracted drivers, especially those on their phones – talking, texting, emailing, using social media, etc. Distracted driving is so prevalent that some have called it an “epidemic,” and the entire month of April was devoted to awareness of the issue.
If you made it through the month without getting a citation for distracted driving or without being involved in an accident with a distracted driver, congratulations are in order.
But the reality is that operating a vehicle is a huge responsibility, inattentive drivers are everywhere and the extra effort should last year-round. Every day should be distraction free.

Over 50,000 Distracted Driving Accidents in Kentucky

According to the Department of Transportation, over 3,150 people were killed in 2013 in motor vehicle crashes nationwide that involved distracted driving and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured. In Kentucky, there were more than 53,000 distracted driving crashes reported in 2014, resulting in over 14,000 injuries and 169 fatalities. While there are many activities that can cause a driver to be inattentive, the biggest problem today is giving in to the smartphone habit when we are behind the wheel. Driving and using a cellphone at the same time makes it incredibly difficult to concentrate on either task. Our attention is being shifted back and forth, resulting in a serious cognitive distraction. This, coupled with the visual distraction of taking our eyes off the road and the manual distraction of taking our hands off the wheel, is a recipe for roadway disaster.

Use Common Sense

You may have seen a Lexington reporter’s article about traveling through a distracted driving course outlined by orange cones that represented highway lanes, people and a wall. Texting while driving during the course led the reporter to smash more than 12 cones, mirroring the reality of hundreds of drivers. Common sense says that you should ask passengers to help in something that would otherwise distract you or, if you’re alone, pull over to deal with anything that demands your immediate attention. In 2014, a study found that the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones.

School-Wise

Many high schools are now offering presentations featuring texting and driving simulators aimed at teaching students how to stay safe on the road. Students from Pikeville High School recently participated in such a program that imitated impaired driving while they drove a golf cart through a course inside the expo center. This is always an important lesson for teens, but especially at this time of year with upcoming proms and graduations.

Kentucky’s Texting Ban

Kentucky’s texting law, which took effect April 15, 2010, bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. For drivers over 18, it allows the use of GPS devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call. Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid. For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices is allowed while the vehicle is in motion. The use of a GPS is allowed, but manually entering information must be completed while the vehicle is stopped. Violators are liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense, plus court costs. The next time you take your eyes off the road in front of you, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off of driving, consider whether it’s really worth hurting yourself or someone else. And if you or someone you love has been injured by someone who took that chance, you need an attorney with experience to effectively represent your interests. At the Johnson Law Firm, we have been helping people for over 15 years, and we can help you. Contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or using our online form.

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