Despite the fairly recent spate of Georgia laws banning texting while driving, as well as an accompanying push by mainstream media to educate consumers nationwide, motorists continue to regularly engage in the practice– either because they fail to recognize the very real risk presented by what has repeatedly been called one of the most precarious distracted driving activities, or because they purposefully choose to ignore it. Then again, the push against distracted driving is so recent that many people may find it difficult to fully comprehend the repercussions that the activity can have. Nonetheless, this lack of education does nothing to change the ultimate, and often fatal, effect that results.
A woman in Douglas County, Georgia, recently demonstrated just how fatal checking even one seemingly insignificant text message while behind the wheel can be, reports Alexis Stevens at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 26-year-old Danielle Garcia had allegedly just received a text message and was holding a conversation on her cell phone moments before she caused a fatal car accident that claimed two lives and resulted in significant injuries to other motorists involved. Among charges for second degree homicide by vehicle, following too closely and driving with an expired license, she also faces a charge for distracted driving–even though Garcia attempted to delete the text message before handing her phone over to police officials.
With technological advances steadily making the rounds in the communication realm, an increasing number of consumers are lured by the temptation to use their phones while in the car. Because, however, the number of car accidents caused by distracted driving is also on the rise, many personal injury attorneys are starting to feel that educational media utilizing the “shock factor” may indeed be the best deterrent currently available.
One popular website, Buzzfeed, recently published its own take on the dangers inherent in distracted driving in an editorial entitled “10 Facts You Might Not Know about Texting While Driving.” In the article, Buzzfeed aimed to shock it readers by publishing some pretty interesting yet little known truths supplied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Some of the more interesting (and rather alarming) facts suggest that:
-5 seconds is the average time a motorist’s eyes wander from the road when texting, which means that at 55 mph, a driver has already driven the length of a football field within that time;
-49 percent of drivers under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving;
-20 percent of teenagers have confessed to holding extended text conversations while behind the wheel;
-Even once cognizant of the risks, 98 percent of adults continue to text while driving;
-More than 40 percent of those who admitted to texting while driving admitted that it has become a habit for them; and
-Doing things like teaching for a phone, dialing and/or texting makes it three times more likely a car accident will occur.
Of course, social media sites like Buzzfeed aren’t the only entities to recognize and address the growing prevalence of distracted driving. The United States Department of Transportation launched the first nationwide distracted driving enforcement and advertising campaign earlier this month. Designed to combat instances of distracted driving, and boasting the apt tagline “U Drive. U Text. U Pay”, the program finally “puts distracted driving on par with our efforts to fight drunk driving or to encourage seatbelt use,” according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Revenue-driven companies are also jumping on the bandwagon, using their influence to educate the public. Apple has even gone so far as to patent a “driver handheld computing device lock-out,” per Apple Insider. The new technology, which is to be integrated into the popular iPhone, turns off texting by drivers by using a lock-out mechanism that works with on-board sensors and transmits blocking signals, stopping a driver from receiving and sending texts. Up until this point, similar applications (such as “Hands Free Driving”) have been entirely voluntary–giving motorists the option to turn the program on and off at their leisure. An automated program like this one might just be the needed solution. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, if you or a loved one is the victim of a car accident due to distracted driving, car accident lawyers may be more readily able to assist you with your case and the issues stemming from it. Click here to contact a local attorney and learn key tips for hiring an attorney who best suits your needs.