According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2015, 35,000 people were killed and more than 2.4 million were injured on U.S. highways. The increase in the fatality rate, 7.2 percent over 2014, is the largest percentage increase in nearly 50 years and stops a 10-year trend of declining fatalities.
NHTSA has called surging auto fatalities “an immediate crisis” based on its data that showed 17,775 deaths in the first six months of 2016, up 10.4 percent from last year, and about 16 percent higher at the six-month mark in 2014. Following this trend, 100 people will die on U.S. roads today.
At least one-fifth of those accidents will likely be related to distracted driving. If this many people were injured and killed every day by some other means, experts would call that an epidemic. What makes this situation different?
According to a recent NHTSA survey, “20 percent of drivers age 18-20 said texting does not affect their driving, and nearly 30 percent of drivers ages 21-34 said texting has no impact.” This is similar to how people thought about driving under the influence of alcohol before law enforcement started paying attention to the data and acted by raising the drinking age, establishing a standard Blood Alcohol Limit (BAC) and creating license revocation laws and ignition interlock laws. Since 1982, drunken driving fatalities are down 52 percent overall, and 79 percent for drivers under age 21, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
There is no obvious way to stop drivers from being distracted by their cellphones. Overcoming this epidemic will require an aggressive, coordinated and systematic approach. It must involve many groups and companies from wireless carriers, to smartphone manufacturers, auto insurers, policy makers and transportation agencies.
States, however, are making progress. A total of 46 states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws that ban texting, while 14 states have banned handheld phone use. Law enforcement is also more frequently investigating and reporting distraction as a cause of accidents.
Yet for now it comes down to individuals choosing to turn off cellphones or make them inaccessible while driving. The choice to put phones away may also be a choice to keep other people on the road alive.
Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation.
If you have been hurt in a vehicle accident, you should seek experienced legal help. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other losses caused by a motor vehicle accident. Call us anytime – we are available 24/7