Albany Auto Accident Law Firm on the Importance of Distracted Driver Awareness Month
New York state led the way nationally several years ago by changing highway “rest stops” to “text stops.” Phone-service carrier AT&T launched its “It can wait” campaign, and has inspired more than 36 million page visitors to “take the pledge” to drive distraction-free. And the parents of Hunter Garner, a Virginia teenager who was killed in a car crash in 2007, founded Project Yellow Light to create a scholarship competition for high school and college students to talk directly to their peers about the dangers of distracted driving, first in video messages and now also in radio and billboard public service announcements.
All of these initiatives, and others like them, surely are contributing to greater safety awareness on the roads and highways, one driver at a time. But until we reduce crashes caused by distracted-driving to the barest minimum possible, it’s not enough.
U.S. Distracted Driving Statistics
Every day in the United States, on average, at least nine people are killed and 100 injured in crashes involving distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,450 such deaths in 2016. And many experts believe that the statistics probably underrepresent the extent of the problem, given the likelihood that police reports don’t cite distracted driving as a factor in crashes as often as they should.
Top Safety Tips for Driving on the Interstate
In recognition of national Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, safety.com has compiled a list of 13 safety tips for driving on the interstate. Some of them are pretty basic: Buckle up, pass on the left, don’t tailgate, don’t speed, and of course, don’t drive under the influence. The tips also include common-sense reminders to accelerate up to speed on the entrance ramp, pull off the highway for a break when drowsy, adjust your driving for weather conditions, and curb any urge you might have to drive aggressively.
Cell Phone Usage Leading Cause of Distracted Driving
And there at number two is a tip referencing the activity that most people blame for increased danger on the highway: “Put down the cell phone.” While the awareness of this danger has increased in recent years (thanks in no small part to initiatives like those noted above), with many people making a point of leaving their phones off or in “do not disturb” mode while they drive, many others have not kicked the habit, as a simple drive around town will make abundantly clear. Change seems to be coming in small increments as some people reconnect with their common sense, but too many others either don’t realize how dangerous it is to text and look at their phones while hurtling down the interstate—or for some reason are willing to take that risk.
One day, a new generation of driverless cars may reduce distracted-driving crashes to a now-and-then anomaly, but for now, all drivers need to do better. Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a good place to start—but making better choices behind the wheel should continue all year long.
Dreyer Boyajian LaMarche Safranko is headquartered in Albany, New York, and represents clients in cases involving automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian crashes in courts throughout New York state. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a distracted driver, call us at (518) 463-7784 or contact us for a no-obligation consultation.