Distracted Driving: Will Technology Save Us?

File:Texting while Driving (March 28, 2013).jpg

Distracted Driving: Will Technology Save Us?

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney. There are a number of laws and initiatives in California working to decrease and eliminate distracted driving. I want to point out one such effort by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and their support of the TEENSMART (R) program designed to reduce driving  behaviors responsible for the majority of collisions involving teens. The program can make teenagers better drivers and may also provide insurance discounts with certain carriers upon successful completion.

By The Numbers

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration research reports that distracted driving of all types (texting, cell phone use, eating/drinking, talking to rear seat passengers, etc) accounts for many of the thousands of auto accidents reported each year. In 2014, the NHTSA noted that 3,179 people were killed with an estimated additional 431,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers. Of the 3,000 fatalities- an estimated 10% of all U.S. auto accident fatalities- people under the age of 30 or over represented in distracted driving and cell phone related accident statistics. It should be noted that insurance industry studies have strongly argued that the numbers are much higher, perhaps a rate as  high as 64% cell phone involvement in all accidents. As the use of cell phones becomes increasingly common and law enforcement accident reporting adapts, the numbers on such accidents will be much higher.

Teenagers have been identified as a particularly at risk group and targeted for intervention for distracted driving behaviors. There are dozens of studies which have documented the impact of even a few seconds of distraction while operating a motor vehicle. Those few seconds can actually take much longer when you consider the act of picking up a cell phone, inputting data, texting, recalling a phone number, dialing, speaking, and hanging up. One example of these research studies, involving controlled driving simulations, clearly confirmed and demonstrated the negative impact of distracted driving (of all types) on safe motor vehicle operation.

Won’t technology save us?

The simple answer is NO. Navigation systems, wireless cell phone use and voice to text functions add to our enjoyment of driving. While they do “free up” our hands, studies have shown that they are just another distraction for drivers. It is estimated that over 90% of new cars had wireless connectivity for navigation, cell phone use, music and voice texting. Studies have found that using hands free devices creates “inattention blindness” which can lead to an almost 8 times higher rate of crashes.

Same old story?

In some respects, yes! Parental guidance for teens and education programs are the keys to reducing distracted driving among younger drivers. There are many programs sponsored by local and state law enforcement as well as the insurance industry that provide information, training, and strategies to address this very important driving issue. Distracted driving apps for the smartphone are also available and should be part of any education program or strategy.

One last thing

Distracted driving is like any other public health issue, it will respond to pressure from the public! If you witness an accident involving distracted driving, make that a part of any statement you provide to law enforcement.

Related Articles by Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney Ed Smith

Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a local Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney. Distracted driving is increasingly becoming a problem on our roadways. If  you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to a distracted driver, please call me today at (916) 921-6400 or toll free at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice.

I have been recognized by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Advocates in this group have obtained million-dollar settlements and case verdicts for their injured clients.

Some of the results of my clients’ cases are summarized here: verdicts and settlements

My past clients have left many comments and reviews posted on AvvoGoogle Plus and Yelp.

Visit my website for more information on personal injuries at

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Texting While Driving by Intel Free Press. CC BY-SA 2.0

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