Distracted driving has become a hot-button issue in many states across the country. While some states have moved to ban texting and talking on cellular phones without a hands-free device, others have refused to make such provisions law. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently recommended that all states ban texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of automobile accidents caused by distracted driving.
The GHSA is a nonprofit group representing state highway safety offices. Analyzing nationwide data from over a decade, a recent GHSA report made links between distracted driving behavior, such as texting and cell phone use, with high-risk automobile accidents. In fact, the GHSA encourages all drivers to avoid using all forms of electronic devices while driving regardless of the laws in their state.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Distracted driving is a significant problem in the U.S. In 2009, it was a factor in 20% of all crashes resulting in injury according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In that same year, distracted driving killed 5,474 people and injured another estimated 448,000. Texas is especially hard hit, as the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 3,100 of the more than 5,400 people killed by distracted driving were killed in the Lone Star state.
Distracted driving takes many forms, but at its core, it is any non-driving activity that takes a driver’s attention off the road enough to increase the risk of an accident. Talking, eating, grooming, reading, changing the radio station, and using a navigation system, or cell phones are some of the actions that result in distracted driving.
Cell Phone Use = Drunk Driving?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that the use of a hand-held device increases the risk of an injury accident by 4 times. According to the University of Utah, any cell phone use (hands-free or not) delays driver reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Everyone agrees that drunk driving kills; distracted driving is not much different.
Driving distracted endangers the lives of everyone on the road. It is a personal choice with serious and far-reaching consequences. Each driver should carefully consider the GHSA’s recommendation to cease using all forms of electronic devices while driving. Doing so could mean the difference between life and death.