It feels like an insurmountable problem. I can't tell you how many times I'm at a light and look over to see someone on their phone, or eating, or turned around to care take the kids in the back. Not to mention the driver I saw on I-5 just outside Bellingham reading her Kindle while driving. Actually reading. All of these are distracted driving behaviors. They are illegal, but what's worse is that they're entirely preventable. If it's so important, pull over. If it can wait, then IT CAN WAIT.
It's a passion for me to help victims of distracted drivers. When someone is hit by one, I can help them recover damages financially, but the real impact goes into my clients' lives forever. Especially when someone is permanently disabled or even killed. I see it every day, so this is why I am passionate about spreading the word about this behavior.
We can all play a part in the fight to save lives by ending distracted driving. If you feel like there's nothing you can do, let that go. You can. Here are some ideas I'd like to share with Bellingham families.
Teens are the group most at-risk of crashes where distractions factored in. Here's the latest proof in numbers:
Teen Driver Cell Phone Statistics. 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving. According to a AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway. 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones. (Thank you, Edgar Snyder & Associates, a personal injury law firm in PA)
Teens have a dramatic impact on their peers, which can be a force of good. We encourage teens to speak up when a friend is driving while distracted, and talk with your friends about putting the phone away before you get in the car. Have your passenger navigate or write texts for you. Here are some more, even better ideas from the winner of our high school scholarship essay contest.
You may not think that your teens aren't paying attention, but they are. Even younger kids learn how to drive long before they can get behind the wheel themselves. Set a good example. Never drive distracted - not just to set a good example but to be able to fully focus on the task of driving. Put your phone in the glove box, or in the back seat if you can't resist. No amount of "hands free" apps and gadgets can prevent distracted driving, even though the idea seemed like a good one. Check this story about a test Mythbusters conducted, and scroll down for the Stanford experiment showing how hands free devices are just as likely to cause distracted driving accidents if not more so.
This month, the heat is on. Washington State Patrol is conducting distracted driving patrols. If an officer sees you on your phone, you'll be pulled over and ticketed for this. Be safe out there and focus on the drive.