There is a refreshing move towards banning all portable devices while driving. It may be an uphill battle, but it would save lives.
“Driving while distracted is a major issue today with the abundance of devices being used by people while they drive. You cannot drive and text, talk on the cell, eat, drink, comb your hair, put on lipstick, shave or change clothing at the same time. I’ve heard of a couple of other shenanigans people have tried in a moving vehicle, but suffice it to say that should not be done in a car either,” added Robert W. Lee, an Austin personal injury attorney at Lee, Gober & Reyna.
Numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation for the year 2009 show more than 5,500 people died in accidents involving distracted driving, and close to 450,000 sustained serious injuries. More than just a major issue, distracted driving is a serious epidemic and something needs to be done to halt the needless deaths.
While cellphone use is the leading cause of fatal accidents, there is also texting while driving, eating, drinking, talking to other passengers, watching the scenery, playing computer games, programming a GPS system, picking things up off the floor, watching a movie on TV, changing discs in the mp3 player and so on. When distracted driving is the cause, it is an issue that calls for changing driver behavior and perceptions; the perception that it is alright to drive and eat, text, talk on the phone, play games and use a computer.
“Cellphones are the worst form of distraction while driving, there is no question about that. Because that is the case, many states have banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving and/or have banned texting while driving. These are all good steps, but we also need to remember that some people feel they are above the law and that it does not apply to them,” Lee observed.
In terms of banning cellphone use for anything, the new federal rule making it illegal for commercial drivers to use them while driving is a step in the right direction. Further hope on the horizon is the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommending that all 50 states and the District of Columbia ban using all portable devices while driving. “This is a hefty recommendation, and one that is long overdue. Whether or not it will be implemented is hard to say, but it would certainly reduce the number of senseless fatalities,” opined Lee.
Why the NTSB recommendation to ban everything? It came as the result of a horrendous massive chain reaction accident in Missouri. A pick-up rear-ended a semi and a school bus rear-ended the pick-up. There were two deaths and 38 badly injured. The cause was a cellphone. The pick-up driver had sent and received just about a dozen text messages minutes before the collision.
“The message to those who text and drive should be that it is not acceptable or safe behavior; it can and will kill you and others. Is it worth texting about what to order at a restaurant, how your date went or what to pick up at the grocery store, if you end up dead?” Lee asked.
Anyone finding themselves involved in an accident where the other driver was driving while distracted needs to call a qualified Austin personal injury lawyer and ask what legal options are open to them. If they were injured, they may be able to seek compensation for those injuries. Driving while distracted is clearly negligence, and this is the first thing an experienced Austin personal injury lawyer will tell a client.
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