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 preventable 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.