April may historically be known for its showers, but our Knoxville car accident lawyers know it is fast becoming recognized for something else: Raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
It's no coincidence that this is the same month of prom preparations and spring fever, when young folks especially are eager to enjoy the warming weather. But more people behind the wheel inevitably are going to mean more crashes. Further, it seems that with regard to distracted driving, we're getting worse - not better.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, in 2010, one in five young drivers were observed behind the wheel using a hand-held electronic device, usually a cell phone.
Fast-forward to this year. That figure has doubled. It's now two in five young drivers.
And there is more bad news.
Anytime you're on the road, every other driver you pass will answer a phone call. One out of every four drivers you pass will make a phone call. Of the young drivers you pass, three out of every five will pick up the phone to answer a call. One-third of those same young drivers will make a call.
It's terrifying when you consider the effect that such action has on a person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. People have this skewed perception that, while distracted driving is dangerous when other drivers do it, it's acceptable for them. They fail to see how much their own ability to drive safely is eroded when they are talking or texting behind the wheel.
While all distractions can significantly detract from your safety, not all distractions are created equally. Texting involves visual, manual and cognitive distraction. That is, when you are texting, you are not looking at the road, you are not holding onto the wheel with both hands and you aren't thinking about the road ahead of you.
And yet, it's becoming a more common phenomenon.
The NHTSA reports that, at any given moment on U.S. roadways, some 660,000 motorists are talking on their phone. That's about five percent of all licensed drivers, though consider that not every licensed driver is on the road at any given moment.
Even more troubling are the statistics for manipulating a mobile device while driving. That is something right at this moment being engaged in by 1.18 million drivers, or about nine percent overall.
This is deeply troubling, particularly when you consider that most people KNOW this is not a good idea. Three quarters of Americans support a ban on cell phone use while driving and 95 percent support a ban on texting while driving.
Yet, half of us right now are answering a phone call while driving. A quarter of us are placing a call. Nearly 700,000 are texting in the driver's seat.
This disconnect must stop. The only way we are going to make a difference is by having every individual make a pledge to put their phones out of reach before each and every trip. Don't assume you are one of those who can do it safely. Those people don't exist.
It starts with you.
If you are involved in a Knoxville car accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.
NHTSA Survey Finds 660,000 Drivers Using Cell Phones or Manipulating Electronic Devices While Driving At Any Given Daylight Moment, April 5, 2013, National Highway Traffic Safety Association