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Despite Small Decline, Distracted Driving Remains Epidemic

Distracted driving–driving while talking on a phone, texting, applying make up, reading a newspaper, etc.–accounted for 16% of all traffic fatalities in 2009. The actual number of people who died on the road fell from the previous year, but the proportion of cases caused by driving while distracted (DWD) remained the same.

According to an article on WRAL.comthis morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that these numbers:

…could be the “tip of the iceberg” because many police reports don’t document whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes, making it difficult to know the full scope of the problem.

LaHood, a former Illinois congressman, is kicking off a second national summit on distracted driving on Tuesday. He has pushed states to adopt tougher laws against sending text messages from behind the wheel and other forms of distractions.

Thirty states, including North Carolina, have banned texting while driving. Eight states have passed laws barring drivers from using hand-held cell phones. Of course, we know from scientific research that using any cell phone, even a hands-free phone, increases your chances of having an accident to the same level as driving drunk. In other words, it’s not your hands that get you into trouble, it’s your distracted brain.

HensonFuerst attorneys are happy that the total number of traffic fatalities was lower in 2009 than in 2008. But there were still 5,474 people who died as a result of someone driving while distracted. That 5,474 people dead as a result of cell phone use, texting, or other equally foolish activity. That’s unacceptable.

If you would like to join the fight against distracted driving, check out this website (one of Oprah’s favorites!): http://www.distraction.gov

Trust us…we know how difficult it is to break the cell phone habit. We’re lawyers; we like to talk. But we are hanging up. Driving is too important to multitask. We’ll keep you informed if anything important comes out of the national summit on distracted driving.

Stay safe!

To read more about Oprah’s No Phone Zone campaign, click here: Oprah’s NO PHONE ZONE

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