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NHTSA Commits to Fight Distracted Driving Caused by Smart Phone Usage

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in distracted driving accidents. Unlike most traffic fatality statistics, which have steadily declined with increased law enforcement and better technology, wrongful deaths caused by distracted drivers continue to increase each year. Nearly 400,000 people will be seriously injured this year because of someone being distracted behind the wheel, accounting for a staggering 18 percent of all injury accidents in the United States.

Our lawyers at Levin & Perconti work with families who have experienced the tragic effects of accidents everyday, but we aren’t the only ones addressing the growing problem of distracted driving. In a recent press release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration voiced its commitment to fight distracted driving caused by smartphone use in 2013. The organization has a national program in the works dedicated exclusively to this issue, which their officials likened to their existing efforts to curb impaired driving and driving without a seatbelt.

While the NHTSA’s proposed guidelines are still being finalized, several manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have expressed interest, and a little concern, over the proposals. Under current federal law, barriers to a driver’s use of technology while driving have been determined by the automakers, but if the NHTSA is successful in implementing their programs, the organization will possess much more power to tell auto manufacturers what can and can’t be produced in future cars. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Representatives from the Big Three, accompanied by various other car manufacturers and automakers will meet with Officials from the White House Office of Management and Budgeting before the guidelines are set in stone, so it’s anyone’s guess what the final outcome will be.

In the two decades our lawyers have spent representing clients in personal injury and wrongful death accident cases, we have witnessed first hand the rapid growth of technology, and the positive and negative consequences that come with it. Today, more than 200 billion text messages are sent and received in a single month in the United States, and far too many of these originate from behind the wheel of a car.

Drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to get into an accident, and exhibit many of the same characteristics of a drunk driver. “We don’t have a challenge in enforcing it,” said one Assistant Police Chief. “I can remember before the prevalence of cell phones and the ability to text from them, typically we’d see people weaving down the road and you’d know that’s probably somebody that’s drunk… You see three or four every day now, and they’re not drunk. They’re texting.” (DM News; Distracted.gov)

While the technology may not be here just yet, it is important that we all make a conscious effort to be alert and responsible behind the wheel. When someone texts and drives, they put themselves and everyone around them in serious danger. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligent or reckless actions of another driver, we can help you get the compensation you deserve, ensuring that you won’t be penalized for someone else’s carelessness.