The National Safety Council (NSC) joins other safety organizations through April as safety advocates promote Distracted Driving Awareness Month.The hope is to draw attention to the serious public health problem presented by drivers who aren't paying attention.
While the public education and enforcement efforts during Distracted Driving month address different kinds of driver distraction, the focus is on cell phone use and NSC urged all drivers to sign a pledge to drive cell free.
Our Montgomery, car accident lawyers know that the majority of drivers are aware that driving distracted is dangerous and yet they do it anyway. It's likely that many drivers underestimate the actual risks they face... risks that are clearly illustrated by some of the stories in the news even as Distracted Driving month comes to a close.
Distracted Driving: It Really is This Bad
One of the biggest issues that makes distracted driving so dangerous is that drivers on the road may not be aware of just how common it is for people to drive without paying attention. A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 660,000 drivers in the United States may be driving while using their cellular phone at any given daylight moment. This means if you are in the car and it is light out, you are sharing the road with 660,000 people who might be talking or texting.
Since any use of a wireless device can make an accident four times more likely, and since using a cell phone to text can make an accident 23 times more likely, the fact that there are 660,000 drivers on the road with a cell in hand is cause for very serious concern. It is no wonder U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood described distracted driving as a "serious and deadly epidemic on America's roadways."
As if the news that thousands of drivers were on their cell phones wasn't bad enough, another news story during Distracted Driving month indicated that some drivers may even be doubling up on the danger. The story reported by NBC involved an Alabama man who was driving his car with his knees while he was "double texting."
The double-texting Alabama driver had a 3-year-old in his vehicle's backseat, along with prescription drugs and $4,500. He said he had been double texting since he was 15-years-old.
Clearly, this recent information shows how bad the problem of distracted driving has become in the United States. As the NHTSA indicates, there were more than 3,300 deaths in 2011 attributed to distracted driving. There were also 387,000 injuries in crashes where a driver was distracted.
The losses from these accidents and injuries are too great to measure when considering the pain of the family members left behind. Distracted Driving Month can hopefully help people to become more aware that distracted driving is never OK and can start to chip away at the number of people driving while distracted. If some drivers are starting to double up on this dangerous behavior, it is clear that the real risks associated with distracted driving have not yet hit home.