By: Allan M. Siegel
Distracted driving is a big problem in our country, and recent developments
in car technology isn’t helping. In 2015 alone, roughly 3,500 people
were killed, and nearly 400,000 were injured in vehicle collisions involving
distracted motorists, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, driver distraction has been found
to pose considerable risks to
children who walk to school in heavily populated areas, and is cited as one of the main culprits behind recent
spikes in fatalities on U.S. roads and highways.
While lawmakers are being urged to adopt tougher
distracted driving laws by safety organizations, advocates, and families of victims injured
and killed by distracted drivers, the problem is expected to become worse
with the rise of new technology in cars on the market.
While cell phone use and text messaging are seen as the most dangerous
forms of driver distraction, any task that takes a driver’s attention
away from their duty of safely operating a motor vehicle creates risks.
These include tasks that involve using or tinkering with auto technology
– such as adjusting music, placing Bluetooth calls, viewing a center-console
screen, and more.
Today, automakers are incorporating more and more technology into their
vehicles, including the ability to surf the web, e-mail, tweet, or update
your status on Facebook, all through your car.
The Chicago Tribune recently discussed a study which found drivers remain distracted up to 27 seconds after sending an
e-mail or text, as the driver is not cognitively focused on driving, but
rather the distraction. This is an eye-opening finding, and it challenges
the thinking of many drivers who believe they can safely send an e-mail
while stopped at a red light.
As driving deaths and injuries increase due to distracted driving, it is
high time to open up a conversation about the software that goes into
these vehicles and its consequences. One potential short-term solution
is empowering owners of vehicles to alter the technology so that drivers
cannot access certain entertainment features while driving, as noted by
the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which funded the recent study on cognitive distraction while driving,
“hands free” does not mean “brain free.”
While such short-term solutions can help drivers avoid the temptation of
distractions while driving, it is ultimately their responsibility to do
the right thing behind the wheel and make safety a priority. When they
fail to do so, negligently choose distractions over driving, and cause
car accidents that injure other, they can be held liable for the damages victims suffer.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our Washington, DC car
accident lawyers leverage decades of combined experience to advocate for
victims of preventable wrecks, including those caused by distracted motorists.
If you have questions about any type of auto accident in the DC Metro
area that involved a driver who was distracted or using a cell phone,
do not hesitate to learn more about your rights and how our firm can help
during a FREE consultation.
Contact us today.