Berenson Injury Law Supports Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Teenager texting and drivingDistracted driving must be stopped

It is shocking that every day over 1,000 Americans are injured and nine lives are lost due to distracted driving collisions. To combat this horrendous problem, the National Safety Council uses April to try to prevent one of the top three causes of the ridiculously car wreck high fatality rate in the U.S. My law firm supports safety organizations like End DD and tries to promote awareness about how we can stop easily preventable car crashes from happening.

It’s hard to believe how people don’t hesitate to drive 65 mph while looking away from the road and down at their cell phones, often texting while driving. Or fiddling with the dashboard computer, eating and drinking, putting on makeup, or looking behind them at passengers. Or all of the above.

There are over one million people driving at any one time talking and paying more attention to their Facebook news feed than to the drivers around them.

This is an urgent problem, as the reaction time for a distracted driver is like someone’s who is legally intoxicated.

But most people are addicted to their cell phones. The result? We all have to take our already dangerous roads for granted.

More distractions mean more auto accidents

The more distractions a driver has, the less time he spends watching other vehicles. So why do we keep giving drivers more ways to divert our attention from the road like more advanced cell phones, apps, and “infotainment systems” so we can seriously injure and even kill other people?

If you don’t think this affects you, we in Texas have the most fatalities of any state from car accidents due to cell phone use – even more than California which has 12 million more people. Just in Tarrant and Dallas Counties, 40 people lost their lives in 2017. And I believe these numbers are vastly under-reported, since the investigating police officers often have no idea what caused a crash to happen.

Many cell phone addicts are young and obviously lack good driving skills. And even worse, many either don’t have basic liability insurance, are excluded from coverage by their parents, or have a sketchy policy with a substandard carrier that is usually difficult to deal with after you have been in a car or truck accident.

As a personal injury lawyer who only represents innocent victims of car and truck collisions, I see too many crashes caused by distracted driving. There are substantially more rear-end accidents and other examples of stupid driving than at any time in the past 38 years I have been practicing law in Fort Worth.

Often the negligent driver admits “I never saw you” to my client at the scene, but later denies saying that in court after his insurance company explains his policy will be cancelled or his rates are going up.

Ways to combat distracted driving

At least Texas finally passed a law that took effect in September of 2017 outlawing some texting while driving. Over 100 cities had already had to pass their own laws to stop this. Texas finally became the 47th state in the country to pass an anti-texting law. But it was a watered-down measure that only fines offenders $25, hardly scary. And even then, a ticket can only be issued if a law enforcement officer actually sees the person texting, which rarely happens.

There are different apps that can stop or limit cell phones from working while the car is moving. I’ve blogged about them several times to encourage their use. But few people do.

The problem

An insightful article in the Dallas Morning News this week pointed out the depth of the distracted driving problem:

  • While vehicles are more safe than ever, our driving safety is at an all-time low.
  • About half of our children already own a cell phone by the time they are 10 to 12 so they are addicted to them when they are 15 and 16 and start driving.
  • A whopping percentage (41%) of the huge 18 – 29 year old driving population admits to surfing the net while they drive and 30% post messages while driving.
  • Adults older than that are almost as guilty of this dangerous behavior.
  • Laws are not stopping distracted driving.

Take the pledge

Every year, the National Safety Council asks drivers to pledge to keep your eyes on the road. We all need to do this. Learn more about this huge problem and the pledge here.

This April, let’s resolve to make our roads safer. Put that phone down while you drive. Like those AT&T commercials say, “it can wait.”

If you or someone you love has been injured due to a negligent driver, call us at 1-888-801-8585.

 

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