Distracted driving is an enormous problem and one that continues to grow. According to the US Department of Transportation, more than 1,000 people a day are injured in crashes resulting from distracted drivers. While many people attribute distracted driving to increased use of mobile phones, the top distraction (among teens) is their passengers. Teens aren’t alone when it comes to driving without giving their full attention to the road; older drivers are also guilty of driving while eating and drinking, talking, using the stereo or navigation, and adjusting the heat or air conditioning. Other distractions include personal grooming, reading newspapers, reaching for things that have fallen to the floor, reading billboards, looking in the mirror, changing CDs, daydreaming, suffering emotional duress, and focusing on anything other than the road.
Did you know that when traveling at just 55 mph, you travel the distance of a football field in just five seconds? Even if you only glance at the text that just came through or focused on the radio dial, there is still an entire ballfield full of potential danger. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than eight people die because of distraction-affected driving every day in the United States. Across the country, many traffic laws have been introduced to ban the use of cell phones while driving, but these laws vary in scope and severity from one state to another. The legal consequences include fines, class A misdemeanor convictions, jail time, class C to class A felony convictions, and up to 20 years in prison.
Lawmakers aren’t the only ones concerned with distractions on the road. Insurance companies have also joined in national efforts to reduce the painful consequences of distracted drivers. If you or a teen driver has been found guilty of driving while distracted, you may have noticed an increase in your auto insurance premiums. Even if you aren’t the one involved in an accident, the implications could affect your car insurance rates. The emotional and community repercussions can be long-lasting and difficult to bear.
If you’re a parent of children who will be driving, you may want to consider adding accident insurance to your coverage. You should also begin early to have conversations with your children about the dangers of distractions, the variety of possible distractions, and local and state laws. Family consequences may be more effective than societal penalties, so consider letting inexperienced drivers know what you expect from them.
It is possible to decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers. These efforts begin with educating drivers about the meaning of “distracted driving” and a strong emphasis on safe driving habits before teens become new drivers. It is also critical that older drivers set an example of driving with distractions. Other tips for avoiding distractions include committing to stay focused while driving, stowing loose items so they don’t roll around, making necessary radio, temperature, and other adjustments before driving, finishing grooming activities at home, avoiding messy foods while snacking, securing children and pets before driving, storing cell phones out of reach, asking passengers to help you stay focused, and pulling over to deal with emergencies. These efforts will increase safety for everyone on the road, including those you love the most.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you should contact an attorney immediately.