DRIVING WHILE DISTRACTED

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I was shocked when I read an article on distracted driving by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) which claims that in 2010 alone, 3000 people were killed in the United State from distracted driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation has lead the effect to stop cell phone and texting while driving. Since 2009, they have banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers (their jurisdiction is only for interstate commerce) and have encouraged the states to adopt tough laws.

There is a web site call Distraction.gov that gives results of various statistics about distracted drivers. Distracted drivers not only includes texting and cell phone use but also eating and drinking while driving, grooming (combing hair, putting on cosmetics) talking or arguing with passengers, reading directions and maps while driving, using a navigation system (programming them and putting in address), watching a video or adjusting auto control radio or CD player.

The present campaign by the U.S. Department of Transportation is to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving. In 2010, 416,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. This number was reduced to 387,000 people injured in 2011. 18% of all injuries in 2010 were as a result of distracted drivers crashing.

Texting is by far the greatest distraction for a driver. It requires visual, manual and cognitive attention of the driver. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eye off the road for an average 4.6 second at 55 mph.; you would travel the length of an entire football field (100 yards) without looking at the road. You can imagine what kind of trouble can occur driving 100 yards without looking at the road. As can be seen, the new generation grows up with a cell phone (5 yrs. and older) and this carries on into a child’s teen years. New teen drivers (in New York 16 yrs. of age) have been texting for years. It comes as second nature to them. You have teens that learn to drive (inexperienced) and use cell phone and text while driving. 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car while the driver used a cell phone. The youngest and most inexperienced drivers all use cell phones while driving resulting in 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under the age of 20 years. 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the accident.

The cite of Distraction.gov. states that over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand held cell phone. Texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

If you or a family member has been injured by a distracted driver, call the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800.