Over the past few years, traffic safety groups and organizations have brought to light the severity of our nation’s distracted driving epidemic. End Distracted Driving’s (EndDD.org) Awareness Initiative has reached more than 325,000 people in 45 states and several Canadian provinces. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) has participated in campaigns to change teens’ behavior on the road. The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Association for Justice, even cell phone carriers — I could go on and on — so many groups are speaking out and joining the battle to end distracted driving.
Despite our best efforts, however, drivers still use their phones during the majority of car rides — 88 out of 100 trips, one study found. Zendrive’s Distracted Driving Behavior Study, the largest distracted driving study conducted to-date, looked at the frequency and duration of phone use behind the wheel. This study analyzed data from 3.1 million anonymous drivers during 570 million trips nationwide over 5.6 billion miles between December 2016 and February 2017. Zendrive’s top finding shows drivers used their phones during 88 percent of the trips analyzed. When extrapolated for the entire U.S. driving population, that number equates to about 600-million distracted trips a day.
What’s worse is that 2016 was the deadliest year on U.S. roads in nearly a decade. Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows the number of vehicle-related deaths in 2016 totaled 40,200, which is up six percent from 2015 and the first time the number of annual fatalities has exceeded 40,000 since 2007.
Because distracted driving has been noted as a major cause of traffic deaths, many states have begun cracking down with new laws and tools to report drivers’ bad behavior. Many have been announced during this year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Below are a handful of highlights that will hopefully combat the staggering statistics.
- New York “Textalyzer” Legislation is Moving Forward: New York legislators are pushing for law that would allow field testing for use of mobile phones and devices while driving after an accident. Proponents of the textalyzer technology argue it could have a similar effect on distracted driving as breathalyzer tests do for drinking and driving.
- New Jersey Encourages Motorists to Report Distracted Driving: New Jersey’s #77 alert system, originally used exclusively to report aggressive driving, will now be used to report all forms of dangerous driver behavior including distracted driving.
- A New Smartphone App Rewards Non-Distracted Drivers: When downloaded to a smartphone, Mojo runs in the background and detects movement. The app awards drivers virtual points for driving without using their cell phones. The points can then turn into actual gifts like Amazon gift cards.
No matter where you live in the U.S., I encourage you to research your state’s most up-to-date distracted driving laws and reporting tools. Consider having your family download an app like Mojo, and turn safe driving into a fun competition. Whatever it takes to practice good driving behavior and promote safety with others — the efforts are worth it.
About John Bair
John Bair is an experienced settlement planner and financial consultant with a passion for ending distracted driving. As a frequent EndDD.org volunteer, he has spoken to audiences around the country. To assist others in raising awareness, John has written numerous guides and articles about giving successful EndDD.org presentations in schools, business, and community settings. He is a proud board member of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.enddd.org/.
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).