April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and prime time to spread the message about the importance of safe driving. This is a particularly important message to spread among our younger drivers as we approach graduation and the start of the summer travel season.
Our distracted driving accident attorneys in Dallas know distracted drivers join drunk drivers and speeders as those most likely to cause a serious or fatal traffic collision.
The National Safety Council is encouraging motorists to take the pledge to driver cell free; to stop using a cell phone while driving; to recognize that hands-free devices are not a safe alternative to hand-held cell-phone use; and to help spread the message to others, particularly young drivers. Studies continue to show our youngest drivers are most at risk for all sorts of dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, not wearing a seat belt or riding with too many passengers in the vehicle.
But the increasing popularity of smart phones has put the distracted-driving emphasis squarely on the use of electronic devices behind the wheel. In fact, the USA Today recently reported 1 in 4 of the nation’s auto accidents involves a driver who was on the phone. Meanwhile, the threat of serious legal liability has changed the message of an industry that can trace its roots to the advent of the car phone. In 2013, the nation’s four largest cellular phone companies joined forces when Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile united behind AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign.
Still, the NSC’s driver survey has observed a steady increase in the number of motorists seen manipulating hand-held electronic devices, from .9 percent in 2010 to 1.3 in 2011.
While 12 states have outlawed hand-held cell phone use, not state has yet made it illegal to talk using a hands-free device. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports Texas continues to have among the weakest distracted-driving efforts in the nation. While novice drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from texting or using a hand-held cell phone use while driving, adult drivers face no restrictions. Texas is one of only about 7 states that has yet to ban drivers from texting at the wheel.
On April 3, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced its “first ever” national campaign to combat distracted driving. A government agency whose sole task is highway safety, the fact that it is only now launching such an initiative shows how much more work needs to be done. “This campaign puts distracted driving on par with our efforts to fight drunk driving or to encourage seat belt use,” said U.S. DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Across the country, we’re putting distracted drivers on notice: If you’re caught texting while driving, the message you receive won’t be from your cell phone, but from law enforcement – U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
However, enforcement has historically been significantly challenged by dueling laws that make cell phone use legal but texting illegal. Unless an officer can determine which is occurring, a motorist stands little chance of being held accountable without the help of an experienced attorney.
Accident attorneys in Dallas can help. Contact Carse Law Firm at 972-CALL-TOM to schedule a free consultation.