Mobile technology has haunted roadways since the introduction of the cellphone in 1973. Though they are designed to help people live more connected lives, cellphones, smartphones and other e-technology have led to distracted driving, and thus to a rapid escalation of traffic deaths across the nation. Last year, traffic deaths continued to increase, jumping up by 5.3 percent. Police are indicating that they now see traffic collisions that fit the traditional understanding of an “accident.” These crashes are not accidental or unavoidable. In too many instances, they are caused by distracted driving and speeding.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) points out that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for at least 4.6 seconds. That text is the equivalent of driving 55 mph down the length of a football field while blindfolded. Do you think you would drive 360 feet in a perfectly straight line without running into something or veering off the field? Why would you drive down a busy road without looking at it?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reveals that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed as the result of distracted driving. Over 400,000 sustained moderate to severe injuries. Shockingly, but not unexpectedly, teen drivers spend at least 25 percent of their time behind the wheel distracted by texts. Any one of those distracted seconds could lead to an accident or even a death.
Fines, laws and enforcement are working to restore vehicular sanity, but there is still a long way to go to correct distracted driving. Unfortunately, it often takes personal involvement in an accident to realize the dangers. Be the change you want to see on the roads.