By John Fagan***
In 2016, distracted driving caused 3,500 deaths and 391,000 accidents. That equates to distracted driving causing over 1000 accidents per day. Cell phones (hand held or hands free) can extend driver’s reaction time as much as a .08 percent blood alcohol level. You are 23 times more likely to crash if you are texting and driving than just driving. 18% of distracted driving is due to cell phone use. The other 82% consists of eating, drinking, talking, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, and changing the music.
Are teens to blame?
Most people think that teens are the root cause of distracted driving since they use their cell phones the most out of all age brackets. They have shorter attention spans and a temptation to constantly stay connected. Teens have never lived in a world without iPhones and Androids. They crave instantaneous information and have a “it won’t happen to me” philosophy. However, distracted driving is not a teen problem; it is an everyone problem. It starts with children repeating behaviors that they see their parents do. It is a “monkey see, monkey do” environment. When kids see their parents constantly distracted while they drive, it becomes acceptable behavior to them.
What can we do?
First thing we can do is set a good example for our children when we are driving. Put phones away while in the car and do not pick them up, even at stop lights. While stop light texting seems safer than texting while the car is moving, it can still lead to accidents. You usually respond to movement instead of the light turning green which could lead to rear end collisions or hitting pedestrians. Your mind can stay distracted for 30 seconds after you put your cell phone down.
If it cannot be avoided, use a hands free method of answering phone calls, using navigation systems, and changing music. Program your destination and music preferences before the car is moving. Starting July 1st, Georgia joins 16 states and Washington D.C. in banning hand held cell phone use. The states that have used the policy for at least two years saw a 16% decrease in vehicle accidents. If caught using a cell phone, fines and points on your driver’s license increase depending on previous convictions. Some states have taken the next step by having a pilot program that bans cell phone use in cars entirely. They have seen a 40% decrease in distracted driving accidents.
Lastly, if you are involved in a distracted driving accident, be sure to contact an auto accident attorney. My practice is dedicated to helping accident victims. If you ever need help with a legal problem or just want information on these subjects, you can always reach me at 1-855 FAGAN LAW or by email at John@JohnFagan.com.