"Shut Up And Drive"
More Adults Than Teens Die in Distracted Driving Accidents
Ann S. Jacobs, President
You know what the difference is between a drunk driver and driver sending a text?
A drunk driver weaves across lanes. A drunk driver makes really wide turns. And a drunk driver often speeds up and then slows down for no apparent reason.
The driving texter? Check. Check. And check.
As our phones become progressively smarter we continue to unplug our brains and take even more chances behind the wheel. A new AT&T survey lays out in cringing detail just how careless we’ve become when the phone is within reach while we’re driving.
61% of those surveyed admit to texting while driving, one-of-three of us send emails, and more than a third surf the web from behind the wheel. How about those who think driving while shooting a music video is a good idea?
It’s not just young people making bad decisions behind the wheel. The AT&T survey says more than 25% of the drivers between 16 and 65 says they’ve been on Facebook behind the wheel and 14% have been on Twitter. Of those tweeting, nearly one-of-three drivers say they post to Twitter while driving “all the time.”
This is more than just dangerous to the driver – it jeopardizes everyone around them. Randy Romanski, Safety Programs Chief of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) says people have to accept the fact they are responsible for themselves and anyone around them – in their car, next to them, and people on the street. “The five seconds it takes a person to read a text (at 50 mph) is the same as driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Motorists cannot drive safely and multi-task,” said Romanski. “It can’t be done.”
Perhaps the biggest shock is the age of people dying in distracted driving accidents. While the total number of accidents in Wisconsin is dropping, 43 adults (43-54) died from 2012-2014. In the same time period, 24 teenagers (16-19) were killed. As role models for safe driving, we are clearly failing our children.
Under Wisconsin law, anyone on a probationary or instruction permit is banned (regardless of their age) from using a cell phone in a car except to report an emergency. The number of convictions for texting while driving in Wisconsin are up from 347 in 2012 to 488 last year as even more cases head to court.
A recent New Jersey case should send a clear warning to all drivers and even their friends. That case held if you send a text to someone you know is behind the wheel and an accident results, you can also be held liable in addition to the driver. Chilling but when there is an in attentive driving accident somewhere in Wisconsin every twenty minutes, 24/7, cautionary messages need more muscle. Wisconsin could take a lesson from Illinois. Our southern neighbor, last year, banned handheld cell phone usage while driving. Period. Banned it.
It’s not hard to find a solution to the problem of phones and cars. Google, “preventing texting while driving,” and you’ll find nearly 700,000 articles with suggestions ranging from free – turn off the phone – to the latest in high tech answers.
Since you started reading this column, there will be a car accident shortly because someone wasn’t paying attention. In the next hour, another person is going to be hurt in a crash. In the next week one Wisconsinite will die because of a distracted driving accident. As Romanski put it, “what if it was your loved one who died.”
Is it really that hard to turn put the phone away? Or as Click and Clack of NPR fame said so aptly, “Shut up and drive.”
CNN's Michael Smerconish recently aired a compelling commentary on the civil justice system.
Using the GM case as a springboard, Smerconish showed how the Melton family - who lost their daughter in a crash - turned to the courts to find justice both for their family and their daughter.
Smerconish referred to the civil justice system as a check on free enterprise especially when profits take a back seat to safety.
As he so aptly put it...it's all about accountability.
Take Justice Back
Curious about the civil justice system and why it should matter to you? The American Association for Justice has a new website which will show you why the system is important and how all of us are losing rights to corporate attacks every day.
Check the following features:
Understanding Auto Insurance - Ask the Right Questions Before You Buy
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Be sure to read the section on, "phantom motor vehicles," which are drivers who report fake accidents with insured drivers as part of a scam to commit insurance fraud.
If you prefer, you can also check out Understanding Auto Insurance online by clicking here.
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