Action Beyond Enacting Laws Needed to Slow Texting-While-Driving Epidemic

Distracted driving, driving while using a cell phone, is increasing recognized as a major threat on American streets and highways, accounting for thousands of deaths annually.

Online PR News – 06-May-2010 – – HOUSTON, May 6, 2010 -- An epidemic of text messaging while driving with increasingly recognized deadly results is prompting more and more states to consider banning texting completely while driving.

Until recently, it has been somewhat difficult to obtain accurate statistics on the numbers of Americans who text while driving. Now, however, evidence is emerging that the deadly practice costs thousands of lives every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed in car crashes that involved cell phone use while driving.

These are so-called 'distracted drivers.' And, they are as great a roadway menace as drunk drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 80% of all car crashes are related to driver inattention and that cell phones are the number-one culprit.

“Regardless of the extent to which laws are enforceable, it's vital to send a clear message to all drivers that texting and cell calls are dangerous and can cause catastrophic car accidents. Then, to a large extent, the public must police itself, curb those calls and ‘hang up and drive,’” said Houston car accident attorney Jim Adler.

In response, a number of states are moving to outright ban texting and cell phone use. All told, seven states have outright bans on using any handheld cell phone while driving (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah and Washington) as do the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wireless headsets are banned for young drivers (under 18 or 21, depending on the state) in 21 states and D.C. Twenty-three states and D.C. ban text messaging for all drivers; nine other states ban it for minors and/or new drivers.

These initiatives are overwhelmingly supported in public opinion polls. A September 2009 CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 90 percent of Americans favor a legal ban on texting while driving. That poll cuts across all demographics, with at least 80 per cent of each group favoring a ban on texting while driving. Similarly, an American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety poll last spring found that 87 per cent believe drivers who text or email at the wheel are a 'very serious threat.'
“Distracted driving” – the term coined to describe inattentive drivers – is increasingly taken to mean drivers who use their cell phones. And, it is rapidly taking on the same connotations as drunk driving, a real and ever present societal menace.

Jim Adler of Jim S. Adler & Associates is a Houston car accident attorney who works with outside and local counsel to litigate claims in 50 states. Jim S. Adler & Associates supports Safe Kids, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other safe driving campaigns. “Anyone harmed by a distracted driver -- or any driver – can obtain a free case review form on the Adler web site to take the first step toward financial recovery,” he said.

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