Distracted Driving: 10 Views
Distracted driving is a growing problem, as we all know. Today, I’m going to present 10 news stories, trends, and statistics from across the U.S. and Canada that convey just how rampant and dangerous distracted driving is, as well as what some people are doing to prevent it..
One: Distracted driving in Toronto has gotten so bad that the police have just performed a weeklong blitz citing drivers. According to Global Toronto, 2,500 citations were issued, 2,200 of which were for drivers using their cell phones.
Two: My High School Journalism reports that 4,000 teens die yearly in car accidents, which is just about 11 a day. Auto accidents kill more teens every year than alcohol, drugs, violence, and suicide combined. The overwhelming majority of these crashes are caused by distracted driving and speeding.
Three: In Maine, Sen. Bill Diamond (D) is sponsoring legislation that would impose an outright ban on texting while driving. Josie Huang, a reporter for The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, notes that Sen. Diamond was involved in the passing of prior laws penalizing distracted driving. Only time will tell if he meets equal success with the proposed ban.
Four: In Illinois, law enforcement officials have been busy enforcing the new restrictions enacted in January 2010. According to a press release by The Horwitz Law Group (via Digital Journal), two weeks before the end of the year, police had racked up almost 7,900 traffic stops to enforce the mobile device restrictions. Since state police figures don’t include citations or warnings issued by county or municipal police, I’m sure the actual number is quite a bit higher.
Five: In New York, Barbara Goldberg, a reporter for Reuters, covered the state’s new cell phone ban, now the harshest one in the nation. While in most places with a ban you have to worry about fines, the new laws in New York also penalize you with points on your license (in NY, if you lose 11 points in 18 months, your license gets suspended). The penalty of $100 and loss of two points can spell spiking insurance premiums for those caught.
Six: In Ohio, John Horton recently wrote for Cleveland.com about the patchwork of laws that seem to change almost city to city. He notes that this hopscotch of legalities may be getting standardized:
Seven: Meanwhile, in nearby Idaho, a new measure by Rep. Marv Hagedorn (R) is reported by ABC 6 to be stalled in committee. Unlike an unsuccessful attempt last year, which would have imposed a ban on texting at the wheel, this one focused on a fine. Drivers distracted by handheld electronic devices would be subject to a $75 fine.
Eight: Down in the sunny state of Florida, there is no ban on texting while driving. However, Sarah Hollenbeck reports for ABC 7 on a self-imposed ban that has started at a Lehigh Acres high school. Called “Txting Kills,” this movement, according to Hollenberg, has reached 1,700 students.
Nine: On the West Coast, we see the rise of a prominent activist voice in the battle against distracted driving, Dr. Robert Okerblom. According to Robert J. Hawkins, a staff writer for Sign On San Diego, Dr. Okerblom’s son was killed by a driver who was texting at the wheel. The doctor has since become a national voice on the subject, meeting with Sec. of Transportation Ray La Hood, among others. He is now going to pedal cross-country on his bicycle, raising awareness of the subject at his stops along the route between Ocean Beach, CA, and St. Augustine, FL.
Ten: The makers of Taser have their own slant on how to combat the problem. The Infrastructurist reports on a new device recently tested that would disable non-emergency calls and texts to the driver’s cell phone. If the technology pans out, this could well be one of the more effective strategies to date.
These days, it seems like most of us know someone who was either injured or even killed in a car accident. Don’t let yourself be the next victim; keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel!