Taking Distracted Driving Awareness Month Seriously

Distracted driving is a major cause of many different kinds of vehicle accidents that seriously injure and kill thousands of Americans every year. They can be a minor fender-benders or a gruesome fatal wreck. That’s one reason why the National Safety Council (NSA) the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation, and many non-government organizations have declared April to be Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is generally agreed that texting on smartphones is the principal cause of distracted driving accidents. That’s because it involves all three primary forms of driver distraction when behind the wheel:

  • Visual: driver taking their eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking one’s hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: drivers letting their minds wander from driving.
On the list of common distractions, texting is followed by talking on the phone, interfacing with vehicle infotainment or navigation systems, eating, grooming and socializing with others. The legacy of distracted driving is that each day around nine Americans are killed and at least 1,000 injured daily in crashes that reportedly involve a distracted driver. But small steps of progress are being made in the fight against distracted driving. After a steady rise in these types of accidents, injuries and deaths, NHTSA’s national data shows that distraction-related driving deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent in 2016. Granted, it’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start. And though the agency did not cite any reasons for this small dip, the fact that 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.  Many states also outlaw using a handheld device while a vehicle is moving.

Focusing on Teenagers in the Fight against Distracted Driving

The NHTSA said that in 2015, cell phone use while driving led to 1.6 million crashes. Still, no less than 300,000 injuries occur annually from accidents caused by texting while driving. One out of every four accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving. Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk, according to the National Safety Council. It also reminds us that more than half of teen drivers use a cell phone while driving, and almost one in three admit to typing or sending a text message while driving during the month before they were surveyed. The CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) watches the activities of U.S. high school students, including texting while driving. Its most recent research found that 42 percent of high school students admitted to driving and sending at least one text or email in the month prior to being asked the question. These are some of the March 2018 findings of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
  • 94 percent of teen drivers say they are aware of the dangers of texting and driving, but 35 percent admitted to doing it anyway.
  • 21 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
  • Teen drivers are 4 times more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.
If you or a family member has been injured by a distracted driver, contact the Billy Johnson Law Firm online or call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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