Reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road has been a multi-faceted approach. There are campaigns aimed to educate drivers and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving who work to educate, while also pushing for stricter drunk driver-related policies. Add to this the steep penalties a driver faces for drunk driving and guess what? The pressure works. The number of fatalities involving drunk drivers has decreased over the years.
But now there is a new danger on the roads: distracted driving. And the problem here is that while there are campaigns aimed at getting people to put down their phones and pay attention — these campaigns are still new. And while there are laws and very real consequences in place, like Colorado’s texting while driving laws, the penalties are still not as severe for distracted drivers as drunk drivers. The pressure to put down the phone is simply not strong enough for many.
Distracted driving is risky
Drivers worry about distracted drivers when they are on the road. Of those asked, 75 percent said they have seen another driver on their phone, while 45 percent reported seeing other drivers distracted by phones several times a day.
There’s good reason for drivers to worry about whether the driver in front of, next to or behind them is paying attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Every day, 9 people die in the U.S. in distracted driving-related crashes.
- More than 1,000 people are injured every day in the U.S. in distracted driving-related crashes.
- Texting while driving is particularly dangerous as you are mentally, visually and manually distracted. You are thinking about something else, looking at your phone and seeing something else and taking your hands off the wheel.
- If driving on a highway, going at least 55 mph, in the time it takes to even just read a text your car will have traveled at least the length of a football field.
What happens after an accident with a distracted driver?
While it’s good to be a defensive driver and paying attention to your surroundings, you cannot control the actions of other drivers and accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. No matter how cautious you are, you can still get into an accident.
If you get into a car accident, do not leave the scene. Even if you feel physically OK immediately after the crash, once the adrenalin wares off, you could start to really feel your injuries. Rather, stay on the scene and call police. Take pictures and ask any witnesses to stay. You want to gain as much evidence as you can.
If you saw the other driver looking down at their phone or swerving right before the crash, make sure to mention this to police. It’s best to bring up the possibility of distraction right from the beginning. The more documentation, the better as you take next steps to hold the driver accountable.