Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Driving While Distracted: The New DUI starstarstarstarstar

It’s no secret that distracted driving is dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nearly 3,500 lives in 2016 alone were caused by inattention while driving. Because of the large number of cell phones in the United States, chatting, texting and emailing behind the wheel has become extremely prevalent. These behaviors result in distracted drivers and an increase in accidents. NHTSA estimates that driving while distracted contributes to one in every four car accidents.

What is Distracted Driving?

While texting is the most common type, distracted driving encompasses anything done behind the wheel that takes a driver’s attention away from driving. This can include texting, talking on the phone, putting an address into your navigation system, applying makeup in the car, or even eating and drinking.

Ultimately, sending or even reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. Some studies show that using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08. Also, using a cell phone while driving reduces the brain activity with driving by as much as 37%.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Distracted Driving?

Nearly 26% of teenagers in America admit to texting while driving and 48% of teens from 13-17 say they’ve been in a car while the driver was texting. This makes giving new drivers clear instructions on not using wireless devices while driving that much more important. While the phone is the root of the problem, it also supports technology that can decrease accidents that occur from texting while driving. There are severaldistracted driving appsavailable that will help drivers focus more on the road and less on their cell phones. This is especially useful for teen drivers because the apps will notify the parents if texting is enabled while the car is being driven and can even block calls and messaging.

By leading by example and showing that no one should text and drive, we can influence our children not to participate in distracted driving. It’s also important that we have conversations in our communities and schools about distracted driving that is shared with both students and parents.

The need to stay connected to friends, family and coworkers has unfortunately outweighed the safety precautions discussed around this topic. While there are no national laws regarding the habit, some states have enacted lawsthat ban texting while driving or mandate hands-free-use of cell phones. Towns and cities can also impose regulations on distracted driving, but until there are more consistent laws and consequences for the offenders, the most we can do is educate drivers, bring awareness to the dangers, and continue the effort of reforming the laws.

John Leighton, Esq., is a board certified personal injury trial lawyer and managing partner of Leighton Law with offices in Miami and Orlando. He represents seriously injured victims of negligence, sexual abuse, medical malpractice, violent crime, defective products and resort, travel, and vacation accidents. His lifelong passion is helping people who have had the worst thing happen in their lives.

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