Distracted driving, an epidemic sweeping the nation. As smart phones, Twitter, text messaging, and email become the norm, instances of distracted driving, specifically those involving cell phone use, have skyrocketed. In 2014 alone more than 30,000 people were killed, with 430,000 more injured due to distracted driving. But could one of the key causes of distracted driving, the smartphone, also be a solution?
Distracted driving isn’t new. It’s something we all know is wrong, we all know is dangerous, and we all know could kill us or others on the road. In a survey conducted by AT&T, 49% of drivers admitted that they text and drive, even though 98 % recognize that it is a bad idea. Most studies believe that even these numbers are low, as many refuse to admit to the practice. When you consider just how many people are driving distracted at any one time, the number is staggering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at any given moment close to 660,000 motorists are using their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, amounting to almost 20 million hours of distracted driving each day. Staggering.
But what can we do?
First and foremost, we must change our perception. As a nation of commuters and ultra-connected social network-using consumers, we simply think that we are great drivers; that accidents are just things that happen to other people, and convince ourselves that it’s somehow safer when we divert our eyes as opposed to when others do so. A lie we tell ourselves to make it “okay” to text and drive, or check our email at a stoplight.
Second, we must raise awareness with others. Encourage our family, friends, and colleagues to not text and drive, to put down the phone while they’re driving, and focus on what’s really important: the road.
The third suggestion may come as a bit of a surprise. It turns out the very device causing us to be distracted can also help curb the habit itself. Through smartphone based apps, users are now able to track, analyze, report driver behaviors, and help make users aware of preventable risk. There are a multitude of apps available on the Apple and Android app stores that can help us put down the phone and put a stop to distracted driving once and for all.
Finally, we can all speak out, and publicly combat the problem, like Mitch Jackson and Joel Feldman‘s EndDD have done, two individuals whose representative organizations are committed to stopping distracted driving and making our roads safer. I would also encourage all those out there to check out the AAJ Trial Lawyers Care Organization, where legal individuals advocate and support community involvement to combat issues like distracted driving.
Are you ready to take the challenge and end distracted driving? Let’s all become safer. Leave the phones, tablets, and laptops in your bag and just enjoy the ride!
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).