Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving along on the highway, you’re distracted for just a moment and suddenly you realize a car has slowed right in front of you. (If it has never happened to you, you’re a very rare driver.) Fortunately, most of the time, we see the danger in time, avoid the accident and vow never to let it happen again.
How long was it until the next time? Minutes? Hours? A day or so? We’re all human. And, in today’s world, distractions keep cropping up.
Sure, it seems there have always been things that take our eyes off the road. The title of weatherman Al Roker’s book comes to mind: “Don’t Make Me Stop This Car.” But technology keeps adding new distractions.
Personal injury and wrongful death attorneys routinely investigate whether the at-fault driver was distracted by talking or texting on their mobile phone when the accident happened. Most accident report forms do not have a space for the police officer to note if a smart phone was in use, so some do not inquire.
When we think of technology we often think of its benefits, such as safety; after all, it has produced seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and air bags. And even cell phones give us the ability to reach help in an emergency. However, technology has also resulted in dangerous distractions: mobile phones, particularly when not in hands-free mode. And some are so tied to texting and emailing from their smart phones that this added danger is growing.
So, Driving While Distracted (“DWD”) is the most common serious safety concern, surpassing Driving While Intoxicated/Driving Under the Influence (‘DWI” or “DUI”). Car and Driver Magazine conducted an experiment at an abandoned airfield which demonstrated that texting while driving has an even bigger impact on safety than driving drunk. For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 seconds with their eyes on their phone, not on the road, the time to travel the length of a football field. That truth is even more concerning when you consider that 46 % of teenage drivers are willing to admit to texting while driving; the ACTUAL PERCENTAGE texting and driving is likely even higher.
TERRELL • HOGAN attorneys Wayne Hogan and Leslie A. Goller, are teaming up with The Casey Feldman Foundation and 60 for Safety, as speakers in the End Distracted Driving Student Awareness Initiative during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.
Wayne and Leslie and attorneys across America who represent car accident victims will visit local high schools to educate teens about the tragic consequences of distracted driving, provide strategies to combat it, and ask them to sign the End Distracted Driving Pledge. The goal is to help prevent injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving, making the roads safer for everyone.
Beyond education, technology may come to the rescue to help curb the distracted driving it created. Some examples:
- Smartphone apps that prevent drivers from talking, texting or web surfing while driving, available for both iOS and Android operating systems. Some are listed in this MSNBC article. Other apps focused on disabling texting while driving are listed in this Nationwide Insurance article and on Sprint.com.
- Devices that connect with the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics port or integrate into the vehicle’s electronics or infotainment platform, shutting off cell phones, PDAs, etc. while the vehicle is moving.
- Detection, jamming, monitoring and sensors, which lock the keys of a cell phone when a vehicle is going over a pre-set speed.
Parents of teenagers certainly should consider such options as they become available.
A February 2012 survey of 652 teens age 14-17 indicated that parents do play a vital role in fighting teen texting and driving, even if in the same survey progress has only been fewer teens who say they text “very often” and more teens that say they do it “rarely.” 82% of teens who never text while driving talk often with their parents about driving. Teens still texting while driving, survey says.
The law is also addressing this safety issue. Many states have laws prohibiting hand held cell phone use and texting while driving. The National Transportation Safety Board has called for a nationwide ban. Florida has not adopted specific bans, but law enforcement officers have the ability to stop distracted drivers since driving while distracted is a type of careless driving, or even reckless driving.
For additional information about the dangers of distracted driving:
Addressing the Public Safety Dangers Associated with Impaired or Distracted Driving
National Transportation Safety Board Recommends Ban on Cell Phone Use
New Rule Prohibits Interstate Truck and Bus Drivers from Using Hand-Held Cell Phones While Driving
Jacksonville Speakers Increasing Awareness Through Print and Television Media
Local Attorneys Fight Distracted Driving
U.S. Ban Sought on Cell Phone Use While Driving
Wayne Hogan is a Florida and National board certified trial lawyer and president of the TERRELL • HOGAN personal injury and wrongful death law firm.
Leslie Goller is an AV rated attorney – the highest rating Martindale-Hubbell gives lawyers – and has 27 years’ experience representing injured consumers.