Nearly everyone, at some time, is distracted while driving: eating while in the car, text messaging while driving in traffic, reading directions or adjusting the radio or the heat. While these are all seemingly innocent behaviors, distracted driving is a major source of injuries and fatalities every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was to blame for over 5,000 fatalities and nearly half a million injuries in 2009. These statistics bring to the forefront the sobering reality of seemingly innocent driving habits.
Distracted driving is not limited to the use of cell phones or other electronic devices. While text messaging is a major contributing factor in yearly fatality and injury statistics, other behaviors can have the same devastating consequences. Eating or drinking while behind the wheel, smoking, shaving, even adjusting controls in the car all have the potential to lure your eyes from the road momentarily and can lead to collisions, incidents with pedestrians or cyclists, or damage to property.
Refraining from these behaviors whenever you are at the wheel of a vehicle can save time, money, frustration, and most importantly, a life. Driving in a safe and controlled manner at all times ensures that you, and those around you, are kept safe.
While text messaging is not the only cause of distracted driving incidents, the increase in driving accidents caused while text messaging or conversing on a phone means the practice is getting increased attention, both in the media and in the legislature. Several states have already passed laws banning text messaging while driving in a car, and many other states are considering legislation to curb the practice. Georgia law prohibits texting and driving.
Part of the recent focus on text messaging and talking while driving stems from the level of distraction caused while engaging in these activities. According to a study by the University of Utah, using a cell phone while driving in the car causes impairment equal to that of drinking and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 (the legal limit in most US states, including Georgia).
As technology advances, there are opportunities to make driving safer. Proximity monitoring devices are becoming more common on new vehicles. Surprisingly, cell phone providers and application developers are also creating safer drivers. Smart phones such as iPhone and Android now have available applications that disable text messaging functions while the car is in motion. Using the same satellite technology used in GPS devices, the phone can detect the car’s change in position, and turn off the ability to receive or type messages. While it is up to the driver to install the application, once installed it can help curb the impulse to pick up the device while operating a vehicle.
While technology is presenting new challenges in traffic safety, it can also be instrumental in solving the problems we encounter on the road.
Ty Wilson is an injury lawyer with offices in Atlanta and Savannah, GA. He is dedicated to helping injured people and their families. Call his office today at 866-937-5454 to order his free book, 10 Secrets of Georgia Car Wreck Claims. This book is intended to give you and/or your loved one a solid foundation regarding Georgia auto accident claims, how to hire an attorney, and how to deal with the insurance company prior to speaking with an attorney.