Study finds that distracted driving is as dangerous as driving with eyes closed.
Online PR News – 13-July-2010 – – DETROIT, MICHIGAN
A study conducted by an Australian psychology lecturer found that it takes an average of fourteen seconds to read a text message sent in conventional English; now imagine closing your eyes and counting to fourteen while driving. That sounds like an extremely unreasonable request, however driving while distracted is as dangerous as driving with your eyes closed. A 2008 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey shows that approximately 812,000 vehicles are driven daily by someone using a hand held cell phone at any given moment during daylight hours. In 2008, nearly 6000 people died and over a half of million people were injured in serious auto accidents related to distracted drivers.
Driving while distracted has become a serious pandemic nationwide. A 2009 Traffic Safety Culture Survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that 35% of drivers surveyed felt less safe on the road today than they did five years ago. Thirty-one percent of those cited distracted driving as the reason. Because of public interest and concern, state legislators across the country are focused on eliminating the threat of distracted driving, specifically cell phone usage while driving.
Last year, The U.S Department of Transportation held a Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C. More than 250 leading traffic safety experts, safety advocates and government officials gathered to this summit to define this new daily deadly threat as well as how to address it. Washington State was the first state to enact a texting ban, in May 2007. Currently, there are 30 states in addition to D.C. and Guam who have or will adopt some type of no cell phone or no texting banned while driving.
Michigan is the 24th state to take the initiative to ban texting while driving. “This texting ban is long overdue. The hazards of this conduct are well known. The Michigan Legislature and law enforcement efforts will save lives,” says, Michigan car accident attorney, Mark Bernstein.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has also been instrumental in helping efforts to decrease the threat of distracted drivers. GHSA however, doesn’t support handheld cell phone bans; there is no indication that hands-free use is safer than handheld use. GHSA's message to all drivers is: Don't use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law. “We need to develop a traffic safety culture that does not condone driving while distracted much like we have done with drunk driving,” Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., GHSA Chairman Director of Maryland Highway Safety Office.
In a 2010 Pew Internet poll, one in four (27%) of American adults say they have texted while driving, almost the same proportion of teen drivers (26%). “Now, if it’s this difficult for adults to set aside distractions in the car, imagine how hard it is for the youngest, least experienced drivers – teenagers,” states U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Far too often, drivers allow electronic devices to distract them from the road. For teen drivers, who are far less experienced behind the wheel, the dangers are compounded.” Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage deaths in the United States. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analysis of Fatal Accident Reporting System data found that 16 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported distracted.
In addition to banning the use of cell phones or texting while driving, education has become a priceless tool for younger drivers. The Cellular Telephone Industry Association and the National Safety Council (NSC) developed a teen-focused driver education program in 2009 to educate teens about the dangers of distraction. Teens are four times more likely to get into a related crash or near crash event than their adult counterparts when using a cell phone according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. In the Pew Center’s 2009 Teens and Distracted Driving: One in four (26%) American teens of driving age say they have texted while driving, and half (48%) of all teens ages 12 to 17 say they’ve been a passenger while a driver has texted behind the wheel.
Whether you are an adult driver or a teen driver, driving is no one rights, it is a privilege; a privilege that comes with enormous responsibility. The message is clear, while you are behind the wheel, your only focus should be the road. Keeping in contact with family and friends are important but staying alive and safe for them is even more important.
If you or a loved one is suffering from personal injuries due to the negligence of another driver, you should protect your legal rights by contacting an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer today.