According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 9 people are killed and approximately 1,100 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver each day in the U.S. These days, distracted driving is often linked to cell phone or smartphone usage, increasing the chance of a motor vehicle crash.
In a survey of drivers commissioned by AT&T, many respondents, ages 16 through 65, reported using their cell or smart phones while driving. Many motorists claim they not only text behind the wheel, they also access Twitter, Facebook, and make general internet queries. Some even report taking selfies and videos to post to Snapchat or similar apps as they get to and from various destinations.
Although texting while driving is still the most prevalent activity at 61 percent, just over 25 percent of drivers surveyed said they access Facebook, and 14 percent report using Twitter, many noting that they post while driving “all the time”. Between catching up with friends and family on various social media platforms, roughly a third of drivers report checking email or surfing the internet as they navigate around cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Despite public service efforts and legislation to curb distracted driving of this nature, driving behaviors remain troublesome. Although a 2014 AAA survey reveals 84.4 percent of drivers find texting while driving “completely unacceptable”, smartphone use while driving is on the rise.
The disconnect may be explained in several ways according to scientists and policy makers. First of all, there is a strong social pressure to stay connected that frustrates measures to curb distracted driving, which is made all the more tempting with market forces and new technology encouraging constant connectedness. The heavy use of phones has become extremely habitual, with some likening it to addiction. To make matters worse, many drivers tend to overestimate their ability to multitask even as they criticize others for doing it.
Legislation efforts are hardly putting a dent in the problem of distracted driving, although many states have tried. This year, Oklahoma enacted a bill banning texting and driving, joining 45 other states, including Iowa, and the District of Columbia. Despite the laws, incidences of cell phone and smartphone use while driving are common.
The reason for the failure of these laws in Iowa may be related to restrictions on law enforcement efforts. Because texting while driving is viewed as a secondary offense, Iowa officers cannot execute a traffic stop unless the driver has committed some other violation, effectively taking the teeth out of the law. In addition to limiting enforcement officers, the light punishment for texting while driving in Iowa clearly contributes to the lack of adherence to the law by drivers.
The problem of texting while driving or other distracted driving activities contributes to many car accidents on Iowa and Illinois roadways, sometimes resulting in injury or death. If you or a family member has been harmed at the hands of a distracted driver, contact the personal injury Law Offices of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson, PC for help today.
Sources: New York Times, “Some Drivers Are Doing More Than Just Texting”, by Matt Richtel, accessed December 10, 2015.; CDC.gov, “injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety”, accessed December 10, 2015.