texting while driving in SeattleWhat do red nail polish and texting have in common?  The answer is not a punch-line to a joke.  Much to the contrary, the answer is that both are part of one of the most dangerous traffic offenses facing today’s nation.  The traffic offense is known as distracted driving and it’s the cause of over 3,000 deaths in the United States per year.

The following is the first post of two in a special feature covering the topic of distracted driving.  The following will take a closer look into this very severe and dangerous condition.  The second post will highlight one man’s very unique answer to preventing this condition…an answer of increased popular support and heightened publicity.

What is Distracted Driving?

The phrase largely speaks for itself.  Distracted driving is a person’s act of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in an activity that might distract that person’s attention from the basic task of driving.  What possible distractions might exist?  Well, there are several and the most common means of distraction include:

  • Texting
  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Reading a map
  • Adjusting a radio
  • Conversing with passengers
  • Grooming

Among these, texting is by far the most dangerous distraction that exists.  Perhaps you’ve heard this before but are still doubtful.  Well, consider for a moment, the fact that five seconds is the average time a driver’s eyes are diverted from the road while texting.  If traveling at the speed of 55mph, five seconds spent texting means your driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.  Simply pause for a few seconds and truly think what could happen while driving blind, at 55mph, for five seconds.  The results could be devastating.

What the Statistics Say

Still not convinced that distracted driving poses a very severe danger?  For the doubters among us, let’s look at a few statistics on the topic.

  • According to the National Safety Council, as of this year alone in the United States, there have been approximately 494,561 automobile crashes that involve drivers using cell phones and texting.  This translates into one crash occurring every 30 seconds.
  • As estimated by www.distraction.gov (distraction.gov is the official US Government website for distracted driving), over 3,300 people were killed in distraction-affected vehicle crashes in 2012.

More alarming is the fact that distracted driving (and largely texting while driving) is posing a very severe danger to our nation’s youngest drivers.  According to distraction.gov:

  • 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
  • Drivers in their 20s make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
  • 25% of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they sit behind a steering wheel.

Put simply, distracted driving, and largely driving while texting, is causing injury and death to thousands of motorists every year.  Unfortunately, this includes injury and death to teens and motorists in their very early years of driving.  Distracted driving is essentially a devastating and fast growing epidemic that must stop.  But, the question is how?

Laws on Distracted Driving

Laws prohibiting certain acts definitely help aid in deterring the act involved.  As of June 10, 2010, Washington State created a cell phone law in the hopes of deterring the use of cell phones while driving.  Under this law, police can pull a motorist over if they spot a driver holding a cell phone to his ear or texting while driving.  If found guilty of this traffic offense, a driver can face a $124 fine (the fine can easily increase if a crash is involved).

Despite this law, drivers continue to use their cell phone every single day while operating a motor vehicle.  Drivers remain distracted at the wheel despite the inherent danger that these distractions may cause.  Is there a solution in sight to this grave concern?  Or, are we all just too stubborn to pay attention to what matters the most…our safety, the safety of others, and the rules of the road?

Hope just might lie in a campaign entitled the Red Thumb Reminder.  The second post in our feature will examine this campaign.  In the meantime, please know that the Phillips Law Firm is committed to assisting those persons injured in a distracted driving related incident.  If you believe you have suffered injury from an accident involving a distracted driver, please contact our dedicated team of attorneys today for help.