As the consequences of distracted driving become more apparent, authorities are engaging in focused enforcement efforts in much the same way sobriety checkpoints, safety checks, and other enforcement blitzes are meant to combat known risks of the road. In March, The Detroit News reported Michigan State police joined a six-state enforcement blitz on I-75. The “I-75 Challenge” includes four high-visibility enforcement weekends targeting impaired driving, motorcycle safety, distracted driving and speeding.
A Livonia distracted driving accident lawyer understands distraction joins speeding and drunk driving as the poor choices that cost the most lives on the nation’s roads each year. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and organizations nationwide are reminding motorists to pay attention to the road as the weather clears and we enjoy more time outdoors. The National Safety Council is emphasizing the risk of hands-free devices, as studies continue to disprove the notion that they are a safe alternative to hand-held cell phone use.
“While many drivers honestly believe they are making the safe choice by using a hands-free device, it’s just not true,” said David Teater, senior director of Transportation Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “Just like you can’t read a book and talk on the phone, you can’t safely operate a vehicle and talk on the phone.” Belief in the myth has grown so prevalent that 8 in 10 motorists mistakenly believe hands-free devices are safer. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports no state has outlawed the use of hands-free devices by drivers, although 12 states currently ban the use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel.
Meanwhile, state and government safety advocates continue to work to quantify the risks. The USA Today recently reported more than 1 in 4 car accidents are caused by cell phone use, according to the National Safety Council’s annual report. The report found cell phone use contributed to 26 percent of traffic accidents, an increase from the previous year. In the vast majority of the cases, a driver was talking on a hand-held cell phone at the time of the accident.
Perhaps most alarmingly, the percentage of drivers seen manipulating a hand-held device while at the wheel has increased significantly in the last three years, from .9 percent in 2011 to 1.3 percent in 2014. While that may not sound like a lot, it means more than 1 in every 100 motorists are dialing a phone or otherwise manipulating an electronic device at any given time while on the road. And our Livonia injury attorneys know phones are just one form of distraction while driving. Please remember that eating, drinking, grooming, and interacting with passengers (particularly children or pets) can all lead to significant distraction.
Studies continue to show our young drivers are among those at highest risk. Take a minute this month to start the discussion in your family, and do your part to keep distraction out from behind the wheel.