Tackling the Problem of Distracted Driving (USA)

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Despite every effort, road accidents caused by distracted drivers are still a major problem.

Of the 1,469 car accidents in the UK in 2015 which resulted in a fatality, over 500 of them were attributed to a lack of due care and attention by a driver.

Understanding the Problem

There’s a wide range of activities which can inadvertently divert a drivers attention away from the road. These root causes can be divided into three main categories, physical, visual, and cognitive distractions, each highlighting the different ways a driver can be impaired and thus safety becomes compromised.

Because smartphones now having multiple features and capabilities, distracted driving is increasingly being associated with the use of mobile phones and similar modern devices. Since mobiles were first outlined as a problem ten years ago, the scale of the issue has greatly intensified with the rise of technology and our increasing fascination with being in touch with the world.

As of March this year, the UK government increased the severity of punishment for drivers caught using their mobiles behind the wheel. In doubling the fine to £200 and doubling the number of penalty points applied to an offender’s driving licence to 6, the new legislation attempts to reflect the gravitas of this problem.

Outside of Britain

As a problem which afflicts modern society, many developed countries are now recognising the real threat of distracted drivers to public safety. Over thirty countries have now introduced laws to prohibit the use of hand-held devices when in control of a vehicle.

In contrast to this, Sweden doesn’t currently have any penalties in place for drivers using mobile devices and also have fewer deaths caused by crashes than any other developed nation. Relying on safe driving campaigns and educating the populous of the inherent dangers associated with inattentive driving, they have shown that there is more than one solution to this problem.

The American Dilemma

On the other side of the Atlantic, however, a more lax approach is still being taken and the result of which is some devastating statistics. The last two years have seen the greatest increases in the number of fatal highway accidents over the last 50 years. In 2015, a 7.1% increase in the number of fatalities was followed by a further 10.4% rise within the first half of 2016. This equates to more than 100 people losing their lives every day across America due to road accidents.

With no country-wide law to control the problem, the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving varies within each State. This ranges from a $750 fine in Utah to a $25 fine in Alabama for the same offense.

Considering road accident fatalities have rocketed in Alabama from 849 to 1,058 over the last year and the number of crashes attributed to distracted driving has increased by 20% over the previous two years, this is a serious problem which America and places like Alabama specifically need to address.

America’s Legal Choice

One potential part of the solution could be at a grass-roots level. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office currently offers a Distracted Driving program which is a one-day course targeting students and young drivers in particular. Sponsored by Morris, King & Hodge of mkhlawyers.com/legal-services/auto-accident-lawyers, the course is one of many such programs beginning to roll out across the States with a view to educating the masses on the dangers posed.

it’s encouraging to see positive initiatives being launched to cut the death rates of this modern epidemic, however, it remains to be seen whether this alone will be sufficient to halt the growing trend or if harsher penalties need to be introduced as in the UK.

September 26, 2017 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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