When you look around at other drivers at stop lights or when passing by, you may notice the surprising number of people with a cell phone in hand, either talking, texting, looking up directions, or on the internet. It seems dangerous, but is it okay if we do it once in awhile just a few seconds at a time? The answer is no. Driving while doing anything other than driving is incredibly dangerous. The National Safety Council reports that cell phones cause 26 percent of all accidents. And, according to the Secretary of Transportation, Raymond LaHood, 5,500 people die and 500,000 are injured each year due because of cell phone-distracted drivers, as reported by a recent article in Discovery. Paul Atchley, a researcher at the University of Kansas, believes LaHood’s numbers are too low. Instead of including accidents that are likely caused by cell phone use, LaHood and the Department of Transportation only include accidents that are known without a doubt to have been caused by cell phones. Atchley calculates the real numbers to be much, much higher.
Texting While Driving Laws Have Proven to Be Ineffective
It is against the law in many states to text while driving. In others it is against the law to use a handheld device to talk. These laws are seldom upheld by law enforcement, and furthermore, the laws themselves are mostly ignored. Driving behavior has not changed despite them. For those that realize their behavior behind the wheel, or the behavior of their driving children, is dangerous, there are certain types of devices that can be used to turn cell phones off via bluetooth when a vehicle approaches a certain speed. The Department of Transportation is currently carrying out an investigation into these products to determine their usefulness. However, these devices are only used by those who know that their cell phone use behind the wheel is a problem. They currently do no good for those that do not wish to change their habits, and until they are mandatory in all vehicles, millions of people will continue to drive with one eye on the road and the other on their phone.
Changing Driving Behavior
In 2013, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T began a campaign to change their customers’ attitudes towards driving and using cell phones. The project was called “It Can Wait,” and was aimed at keeping drivers from texting behind the wheel. In some ways it was similar to the outreach advertisements created by tobacco companies in attempts to persuade teens from smoking. The “It Can Wait” campaign had no effect. The Department of Transportation’s campaign called “Faces of Distracted Driving” attempts to accomplish what the cell phone companies’ campaign failed to do, albeit by the same unsuccessful means. Whether drivers stop using cell phones behind the wheel because of the rules of the road, technology enforced by the law, or simply by social change, that day cannot come soon enough.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver who was using a cell phone during the collision, contact an experienced Cincinnati car accident attorney today at the law offices of the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers .