At the end of March, we talked about a CDC report on the effects of distracted driving. That report found that 3,300 people die every year in the United States as a result of distracted driving. “Distracted driving” doesn’t inherently mean that someone was texting while driving, but that certainly is the correlation most people make nowadays.
Distracted driving could be a driver lost in thought, or a driver having a conversation with someone in the car. Basically anything that forces the driver to take his or her attention off the road is distracted driving.
The state of Arizona performed its own study into distracted driving, looking at accident rates within the state and the reason for accidents from Nov. 2013 to April 2014. Out of the 10,166 accidents that happened in Arizona over that stretch, 1,163 involved distracted driving. About 11 percent of all Arizona motor vehicle accidents involve distracted driving. Ten people died and 380 were injured in distracted driving wrecks during the months that were reviewed in this study.
Clearly there is a very significant problem on the roads. Drivers are being affected by a number of factors that take their mind off the road, and cellphones are a huge part of this phenomenon. The state has tried to pass laws limiting cellphone use, but only one of the five that were proposed in the current Arizona session made it to the Senate. If it passes, it will ban cellphone use for those who have a learner permit.
Phoenix has its own city statute that implements a fine on those who text and drive, but the problem isn’t the laws that are being implemented to curb distracted driving. The problem is that distracted driving will continue to exist even with laws that forbid it. Innocent people will be hurt by distracted drivers, and they and their loved ones will have to decide if they want to pursue civil litigation against the negligent driver.
Source: Phoenix New Times, “Distracted Driving Causing Crashes in Arizona, but Cell Phones Not the Biggest Cause,” Sarah Dinell, April 23, 2014