Texting while driving is currently banned in 46 states, including Georgia, and Georgia also bans all handheld and hands-free cell phone use for bus drivers and novice drivers. These prohibitions are in place for good reason, but they were a long time coming, and more needs to be done to raise awareness around the dangers of distracted driving.
Through activism, legislation and education, it took many years to significantly lower the annual number of drunk driving fatalities in the United States, and the same could be said of deaths caused by distracted driving. Following are some facts to bring the problem into focus.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that distracted driving was a factor in about 20 percent of injurious car accidents nationwide, and cellphones are the number one distraction.
In fact, the National Safety Council found that drivers distracted by cellphones actually have slower reaction times than drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08, which is the legal limit for drivers.
One study cited by the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration compared texting while driving to driving while blindfolded. Here’s why:
- If you text and drive, then you are distracted manually, visually and cognitively, so essentially you are blind to the road.
The same study found that, while texting, a driver’s eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds. If you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, then you can go the length of a football field during that time.
A lot can happen in 100 yards on a road or highway, and drivers need to focus their cognitive, visual and manual capacities to avoid a collision.
For more on what to do after a crash with a distracted driver, please see Mitchell Shapiro Greenamyre & Funt LLP‘s distracted driving overview.