Our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys urge Alabama residents to participate in Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April.
Sometimes is seems we’re always talking about distracted-driving risks, and yet we haven’t directly addressed it yet this year on our Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog. And that’s how it is with distracted driving: An obvious risk factor that we too often ignore.
The National Safety Council provides a wide range of resources for parents and employers. Teens and those who drive on the job face some of the highest distracted-driving risks.
Education, tougher laws and high-visibility enforcement are the trio of efforts upon which safety advocates pin their hopes. The NSC compares the issue of distracted driving to seat belt use. In 1981, after 15 years of effort, only 14 percent of Americans wore their seat belt. Over the last two decades, better laws and high-visibility enforcement have combined with a host of educational efforts to push the usage rate to 84 percent.
Pilot enforcement efforts in Syracuse and Hartford have shown promise — in Hartford, handheld cell phone use decreased by 57 percent while texting dropped by 72 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning to roll out enforcement efforts nationwide.
Still, motorists are contending with a patchwork of laws. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports 10 state ban all handheld cell phone use by drivers. Thirty-nine states ban texting by drivers. A number of others ban cell phone use or text messaging by young drivers. Some states, including Florida, have done nothing to regulate the risks.
In Alabama, all drivers are prohibited from text messaging. However, only drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a hand-held cell phone while behind the wheel.
And far too many of us continue to believe we are safer using hands-free devices. However, some research suggests out multitasking brain is not up to the task of holding a phone conversation while devoting attention to the necessary task of driving — regardless of whether the driver is using a hand-held or hands-free device.
“Cell phone use while driving has become a serious public health threat,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO. “Understanding the distraction of the brain will help people make the right decision and put down their cell phones while driving.”
In fact, authorities are still trying to determine the extent of the problem. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than 3,000 drivers were killed in distracted driving in 2010. However, many safety advocates believe underreporting makes the likely number of deaths much higher.
As we head into the spring driving season, families are encouraged to talk about the risks of distracted driving with friends and family members. Teens are at especially high risk as prom and graduation quickly approach. Better weather will bring out the motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians.
We urge you to Take the Pledge to Drive Cell Free.