First, the good news: according to data maintained by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a nonprofit organization founded by the mother of a child who was killed by a drunk driver), the annual death toll from drunk driving crashes has been steadily declining over the past few decades. When the organization was founded in 1980, over 20,000 people per year were killed by drunk drivers, but now the number of annual fatalities is less than half of that number.
Now, the bad news: a new menace, distracted driving, now claims between 3,000 and 4,000 lives annually across the nation and injures close to another 400,000 individuals.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Technically, “distracted driving” can take many forms, from talking to passengers to texting. Some forms of distracted driving have been around for many years – adjusting the radio, applying makeup, and eating, for example – but the most deadly distractions of late are those in the electronic form. Texting is notoriously dangerous, taking a driver’s eyes off the road for the length of a football field on average, but using a navigation or entertainment system can also be distracting. Even a simple cellphone conversation can significantly increase the chances of an accident because it takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving much more than he or she realizes.
What Is Being Done to Combat the Growing Problem of Distracted Driving Fatalities?
One of the primary reasons that there are fewer deaths from drunk driving accidents today than there were a few decades ago is that the penalties for drunk driving are substantially more harsh than they once were. For example, even a DUI-first offense carries mandatory jail time, a stiff fine, and the loss of driving privileges in most states. One of the main tools used in the fight against drunk driving is the Breathalyzer device, which police officers use to estimate a driver’s blood alcohol content based on a sample of his or her breath.
Now, a so-called “textalyzer” device is being hailed as a possible solution to the problem of distracted driving. According to media reports, the tablet-sized device would allow police to download data from a driver’s phone to determine if he or she had been texting, using social media, or talking on the phone prior to the accident. While the textalyzer would not stop drivers from texting while driving or using other electronic devices while behind the wheel, the results gathered by the textalyzer could be used in a civil lawsuit filed against the driver by someone who is hurt in a distracted driving crash (or the family of someone killed in such a crash). It could potentially be used in the criminal courts as well, at least in states in which the use of an electronic device while driving is against the law.
Contact an Experienced East Texas Car Accident Lawyer
When it comes to holding a negligent or reckless driver liable for a distracted driving accident, an effective legal advocate who is well-versed in not only the law but also the latest methods of gathering evidence can make all of the difference. East Texas car accident attorney Earl Drott has 30 years of experience representing those affected by fatal collisions and other motor vehicle accidents, and he is here to serve your family as you seek justice following a car or truck accident. Call 903-531-9300 to schedule a complimentary case evaluation of your Tyler or Smith County accident case.
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