Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving have increased exponentially with the explosion of new forms of inexpensive technology that keep us all connected 24/7. Unfortunately, if one is "connecting" while driving, the results can be devastating. The National Safety Council estimates that at least 1.6 million crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting or talking on cell phones. The obvious solution? Banning cell phone use, of course. It may seem obvious, but a recent study shows that such bans don’t work.
The Highway Loss Data Institute, an organization funded by the insurance industry, recently released a study which indicates that distracted driving crashes increased in three of four states that have banned texting while driving. The four states, California, Minnesota, Washington and Louisiana, banned texting in 2008 or 2009. One theory is that bans may increase the risks associated with distracted driving because in addition to focusing on their phones, drivers may also be focused on hiding their use of their phones which increases the distraction level.
Some, such as Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, dispute the Institute’s findings and note that effective and consistent enforcement of bans is the key to declines his agency has seen since bans have been enacted. Regardless of whether that position is correct or whether bans are effective, no one seems to dispute that education is key to reducing the incidence of distracted driving accidents.
The National Safety Council offers a lot of resources in the safety arena. Among them is their "Safety on the Road" section of information. The main page states in part:
Driving is a privilege. A driver’s license gives you a certain level of freedom, but it also gives you an enormous amount of responsibility.
When behind the wheel this responsibility comes in many forms:
- Wearing seatbelts
- Driving sober
- Focusing on the road
- Driving defensively
NSC’s role is to not only educate drivers of all vehicle types, but to monitor crash trends. When drivers engage in behaviors that increase crash rates and risks, NSC takes action.
From there, you can dig into the distracted driving section and find information on the following:
At the end of the day, I suppose it does not matter whether the results of the four state study are the end of the story. People need to understand the dangers of distracted driving and take them to heart. Education and awareness are the only paths to achieve that goal, so those areas are where we should all be focusing our energy and attention.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.