Text Messaging and GPS Devices Are Serious Driving Distractions
How often do you pass a driver on the road who has one hand on the wheel and one hand on their cell phone? With the recent surge in techno gadgets aimed at providing the driving public more fingertip conveniences while on the road, there has also been a corresponding rise in serious injuries and deaths related to car wrecks caused by technologically distracted drivers. While cell phones have been a consistent driver distraction for over a decade, recently, other high-tech eye-catchers such as text-messaging, cell phone cameras, global positioning systems (GPS), satellite radios, MP3 players, and e-mail, have also began to contribute to street and highway accidents, injuries and deaths.
Texting and Driving Accidents
Interestingly, researchers have noted that these devices have "intergenerational appeal." Meaning, young and old drivers alike often utilize some or all of these technologies while driving. Although, it has been noted that these technologies are used more pervasively by younger drivers. This alone is cause for concern since younger drivers are often associated with riskier and deadlier driving behaviors than older adults. In a recent edition of TRIAL, Journal of the American Association for Justice, attorney Robert L. Sachs Jr., cites a recent case in which five newly graduated females from Fairport High School in New York died when their SUV veered in front of an oncoming tractor trailer.
According to Sachs, press reports stated that a text message was sent from the driver's phone two minutes before the crash and that response was received less than a minute before a 911 call to report the crash was made from a vehicle following the women. Sadly, all of the occupants in the car died in the crash. The American Automobile Association recently studied th problem and found that 13 percent of teen drivers admitted to text-messaging while driving, while AAA has reported the number may be as high as 46 percent. (See Am.Auto. Assn., Teen Risky Driving Habits Include Text Messaging Behind the Wheel (July 10, 2007).
Currently, state laws governing the use of high-tech devices while driving have been slowly evolving and developing as the problems caused by their usage behind the wheel become known. Many states now regulate cell phone use in a multiplicity of ways. Some completely prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, some mandate the use of hands-free devices while using cell phones, while others list age categories or certain occupations who are prohibited from driving under the influence of cell phones.
The consequences of teen drivers driving with distractions are quite scary. Not to mention, can you imagine the catastrophe that could arise from a tractor trailer driver who would become distracted by these devices? Many commercial or Over The Road (OTR) truckers utilize a multiplicity of communication devices that are available within their cab such as e-mail, voice mal, satellite load tracking and other fleet management tools. Some governmental authorities have even began allowing truckers to electronically log their miles through a satellite communication system within the tractor.
As you can see, there are a myriad of dangers presented by distracted drivers. As a community, we need to be aware of the hazards of these devices while driving and take a proactive part in encouraging those around us not to utilize them while we are driving. Let's not wait until serious injury or death visits our doorstep to take action against a very preventable problem.