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Are Drivers Ignoring Texting Laws?

Blackwell Law Firm - Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersLook at the drivers around you. Do you see many of them staring at their phones instead of the road? I do. I also talk daily with clients who suffered serious personal injuries in car crashes caused by these distracted drivers.

Distracted driving is a frequent topic for us. We have long-advocated an approach to the problem that involves safety laws, education and technology. All three approaches are needed. Safety laws help but they do not solve the problem by themselves. That’s our opinion.

A new study by a California company, Zendrive, supports our belief that safety laws alone cannot solve the problem of distracted driving. You can read about the recent Zendrive study at the website for the Claims Journal an insurance industry periodical. You can also read about the study in a recent Bloomberg article. Each separate article provides interesting insights into the study. According to reports, Zendrive monitored several million drivers. Before I discuss some of the actual results, the Claims Journal article notes Zendrive “is likely discounting the danger” since it only records phone use when the device is actually moving around inside a car. In other words, if your phone is mounted to the dash, your use may not have been recorded. What are a couple of the interesting facts reported by the Claims Journal and Bloomberg articles? Here are a couple:

  • Almost 1/3 of drivers were flagged for risky behavior.
  • Approximately 12 percent of drivers were characterized as mobile-phone addicts.

Think about it – One out of every three vehicles around you has a driver who may be texting! That is a huge safety problem on our highways.

In the last few years, several states have enacted laws banning handheld devices while driving. Have these laws helped reduce the danger of highway accidents and injuries? According to the data gathered by the study, in the 15 states that have such measures in place the share of phone addicts dropped by just two percentage points (From 12% to 10%). While every drop makes our roads safer, that’s a very small change. And, it means that many drivers are ignoring the new safety laws in those states. As I mentioned at the outset, education and technology are also necessary parts of the effort to reduce distracted driving. You simply cannot change the law without changing driver habits as well.

The Bloomberg article also has interesting information on peak times for driving and cell phone use. According to the article, cell phone use peaks at 4pm. Even more troubling, the article states that 3 out of every 4 drivers glance at their phones during that time frame. I’m not surprised this is the peak time for cell phone use in cars. After all, that is the time many people are rushing home from after-school activities and work. Families and friends are often coordinating evening activities at that time.

In past posts, I’ve discussed the rise in overall highway deaths due to distracted driving. I’ve also discussed my opinion that distracted driving accidents and injuries are far under-reported. I believe the problem is much worse.

How do we reduce the number of accidents and injuries caused by distracted driving? Safety laws play an important role. Education also plays an important role. We must work hard to teach new drivers about the dangers. And, technology is also key. Phones and automobiles should be equipped with technology that reduces the ability of drivers to text and surf the internet while actually driving. If we work on all three components, we can reduce the distractions available to drivers and create safer driving habits.

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At the Blackwell Law Firm, we are Huntsville personal injury attorneys helping clients across Alabama. We believe in advocating for safer workplaces, highways and products. You can find many of our articles on this blog. If you have questions, let us know. Consultations are always free and confidential.