Put down that cell phone, because April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. At this very moment, an estimated 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices, including cell phones, while they are driving.
If that isn’t scary enough for you, how about this: the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute estimates that the average amount of time one of these drivers takes her eyes off the road while sending a text is five seconds, which is long enough to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph—without looking at the road.
What is Distracted Driving?
Look it up in the Oxford Dictionary, and you’ll find that distracted driving is “the practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity.” What kinds of activity? Essentially, anything that makes you take pay attention to something other than driving is an activity that causes distracted driving. That activity might be using your cell phone, talking to other people in the car, or eating a cheeseburger. Put the cheeseburger down. You can eat when you get where you are going.
What’s the Big Deal?
According to the Pew Research Center, close to three-fourths of all cell phone owners use their phones to send text messages, and the average number of texts sent by someone between 18 and 24 years old is more than 100 per day. With all of that practice, what’s the big deal if they send messages while driving?
The big deal is that 10% of all teenage drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted when the accident happened. With approximately 2,650 teen deaths caused by car accidents in 2011, that means that, on the average, about 265 teenagers would have lived if they had not been distracted. They would have graduated from high school, gone to their senior prom, or become the doctors they’d always wanted to be.
Distracted driving has become such a big deal that the state of Pennsylvania, along with most other states, has a ban on texting while driving. If you are caught texting while you are driving a car, you can get a ticket even if you aren’t breaking any other laws. Unfortunately, however, the state doesn’t have a total ban against cell phone use while driving.
What Can I Do?
The easiest thing to do is to make a change yourself, which is the message that the National Safety Council is trying to convey by making April Distracted Driving Awareness month. They are challenging people to become focused drivers by pledging to drive cell free. Remember that doing so could save a life, including your own.
If you have been on the other end of a car or motorcycle accident with a distracted driver, contact me at 1-800-injury-law (1-800-465-8795) for a free consultation. If you’d rather contact me through my online contact form, please fill it out and I will get back to you so we can talk about your claim.