Distracted driving is as big of a problem as drunk driving – if not bigger. Few people drink all day, but on average, each American checks his or her phone 80 times per day. That means Americans can't go twelve minutes without checking their phone, according to this article on distracted driving. Chances are, most Americans are going to spend some of that time driving. And if you check your phone while you’re driving, it's like you’re driving with your eyes closed for five seconds. Five seconds is about the amount of time it takes to read or send a text. If you're on the highway while doing so? That’s like driving the length of a football field at highway speed with your eyes closed.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know all that. The question is, how to stop this terribly dangerous habit?
New technology is available that may help police officers enforce distracted driving laws, which nearly every state has introduced. Called the textalyzer, it allows police officers to determine if a driver was using a cell phone at the time of a traffic violation or car accident. Currently being debated in New York state about how this technology might be used, it could be coming to a Whatcom County police officer near you someday, if Washington were to adopt this.
Because April has been designed Distracted Driving Awareness Month, many states, including Washington, have been conducting crackdowns on distracted driving. Crackdowns like these are serious, and do result in tickets. They are also designed to bring awareness to a dangerous behavior, like drunk driving. Since Driving Under the Infulence of Electronics is a primary offense in Washington state along with many others, this means you could be pulled over if an officer thinks you’re not focused on the act of driving. While you might be more likely to be pulled over and ticketed for it during a crackdown, be aware this is always illegal – even at stoplights – so don’t start texting as soon as you think no one is looking.
Lastly, it seems as though what needs to change is to make distracted driving as unpopular as drunk driving. Years of work from organizations like MADD and strict DUI penalties in every state have made drunk driving thoroughly uncool. Social stigma about distracted driving needs to come up to speed, if you will, and things like #whiledriving don’t help. Essays like this from last year’s distracted driving scholarship essay contest winner do.
If you ever suspect or know that the person who hit you was distracted, call us immediately, at 303-392-2833. We help victims of drunk and distracted drivers. To learn more, read about distracted driving car accidents.