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A New Approach to Combatting Distracted Driving

New Study Favors a Multifaceted Approach to Stop Distracted Driving

According to police reports from 2020, distracted driving resulted in approximately 3,000 deaths in the United States. This made up 8% of all of the car crash fatalities in that year. However, it's likely that many more deaths from distracted drivers go unreported since it's hard to say with certainty if a crash and the resultant fatalities were truly caused by distractions.

Distractions Are the New Normal

With more things to take drivers' eyes off the road than ever, these distractions are coming in from all sides. The issue has only grown with newer cars, which often come equipped with a touch screen on the dashboard that combines navigation and information with entertainment. Some other top dangerous driving activities include applying makeup and eating or drinking. In the past, the emphasis has been mainly on enforcement to prevent people from dangerous behavior while in traffic. This meant things like stronger and stricter laws with steeper punishments to make people behave better behind the wheel. But this has been shown to be less effective than a multifaceted approach.

An Informed Public Is a Safer Public

In some cases, the missing piece of the puzzle is information. Many people still aren't aware of the dangers of distracted driving, and part of this multifaceted approach is to find effective ways to get the message to resonate. New data indicates that it may help to have someone close to show them the facts and discuss how important it is to them that they stay safe. Part of the goal of this approach is to create a culture where it is acceptable to wait until you arrive at your destination before you send a text or post an update. The data suggest that if more people talk about the risks they are more likely to avoid those types of risky behavior while they drive.

A Survey to Better Understand Distracted Driving

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety commissioned a survey as part of their work with the National Distracted Driving Coalition that asked whether drivers would be more likely to refrain from cellphone use behind the wheel if a close friend or family member talked to them about it and emphasized the risks. Part of the study was to find out what makes someone predisposed to this kind of behavior and what it would take to convince them to stop. In some cases, part of the solution may be found between children and parents by making a pact with each other that they won't succumb to distractions while they're on the road.

A Time for Change at Work

People who drive for their work such as delivery and rideshare drivers have significant work pressures put on them to use their phones while they drive. Most of the time, this is a requirement in some way or another, and it will take new policies in the workplace to reverse this trend. If you are concerned that your company is not promoting safe behavior while you are behind the wheel at work, an Allentown personal injury attorney can discuss your options with you. One potential way to address distracted driving is an improved Do Not Disturb function on phones and devices. But in the survey, many rideshare drivers said that they would only use this feature if it could be activated manually rather than automatically because they feel that they might lose access to functions required to do their jobs. Vehicle manufacturers have worked on this problem with a combination of voice activation and artificial intelligence. New operating systems are designed with better Do Not Disturb settings, and now, the challenge is informing the public about how to use them effectively. To drive down distracted behavior behind the wheel, enforcement still plays a role. It takes strong laws and things like camera-based tickets to change people's behavior, but it's not the only thing to pay attention to. If you've been in an accident with a distracted driver, call Metzger & Kleiner for an Allentown personal injury attorney who can answer your questions. You can reach our Philadelphia office at 215-567-6616 or our Lehigh Valley office at 610-435-7400.

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