We often write about the dangers of distracted driving. We know from various studies that the person who texts while driving is at a significantly higher risk of being in an accident and that drunk drivers have better reflexes in dangerous situations than texting drivers. We also know that, like drunk drivers, someone who is texting while operating a motor vehicle is putting every person in that car and on the road in danger. And, of course, we all know someone here in Charleston who does not think the statistics apply to him or her.
Last summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a campaign that applies a lesson from anti-drunk driving campaigns to anti-texting while driving efforts. Individual states are now taking up the cause as well.
"Stop the texts, stop the wrecks" encourages drivers to appoint a designated texter. It makes perfect sense: If a driver needs directions or needs to call because he's running late, he should ask a passenger to call, text or enter addresses into a GPS device.
Better yet, the driver should hand his phone over to a passenger before he starts the car. The NHTSA recommends, too, that drivers shut off their phones or turn off notifications before putting the key in the ignition. Even a quick glance at the phone to see who's trying to get in touch takes a driver's eyes off the road for a dangerously long time.
When drivers are alone, the agency says, they should go one step further: Turn the phone off and put it away. Out of sight is out of mind.
A cellphone is not the only distraction that drivers deal with, but it is one that is easily managed. Turn it off or hand it over to someone else to use. Designate a texter.
Source: Huffington Post, "A Designated Texter?," Katherine Bindley, Feb. 19, 2013
Our firm works with people who have been injured in accidents caused by a distracted driver. If you would like to learn more about our Charleston, West Virginia, practice, please visit the motor vehicle accidents page of our website.