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Auto Accident Risk: Distracted Drivers are Everywhere

Distracted driving has been a hot button issue for a long time, with lawmakers in the majority of states passing bans or restrictions on the use of electronic devices behind the wheel and with numerous public health campaigns warning the public about the risks. With so many laws and with so much news coverage, it may seem like common sense that drivers would simply refrain from doing something that significantly increases their chance of getting into a car wreck. 1104507_mobile_phone.jpg

Unfortunately, our Boston distracted driving accident lawyers know that many people simply disregard the dangers of using electronic devices as they drive. In fact, studies have shown that people are aware of the risks but choose to talk, text or otherwise use their cell phones anyway. Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, indicates that this problem may be far more widespread than one might believe.

There are Thousands of Distracted Drivers Right Now

According to the new NHTSA data, which includes statistics from the 2012 Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors Study as well as other studies and reports from 2011, distracted driving remains a major public health problem.

In fact, the 2011 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) demonstrated that at any given daylight minute, there are 660,000 drivers manipulating an electronic device as they are driving. These 660,000 drivers are across the entire United States, talking, texting, using an app, entering data into a GPS or otherwise playing with a device instead of focusing on the road.

The number of drivers manipulating an electronic device has not changed since 2010, despite efforts to educate the public and to encourage law enforcement to crack down on distracted, texting or taking drivers. In fact, the number has not changed even as:

  • 39 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands have a complete ban on texting and driving for every driver in the state adult or teen.
  • 10 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands also ban the use of a handheld cellular telephone while operating a vehicle.
  • 74 percent of drivers surveyed in the 2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors said that they supported a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones. On average, drivers who supported a ban indicated a belief that the fines should be at least $200 for an offense.
  • 94 percent of drivers responding to the same 2012 survey expressed support for texting and driving with a fine of at least $200 for violators of the law.

With almost 100 percent of the population supporting a texting ban and almost ¾ of the population supporting a cell phone ban, it is shocking that there are so many thousands of people manipulating electronic devices as they drive. Yet, almost half of all drivers said they would answer a cell phone call while driving and ¼ said they’d place a call. These drivers, along with the drivers willing to text behind the wheel, make up that list of 660,000 drivers currently putting every single person on the road at risk.

If you or a loved one was involved in a distracted driving accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources
Spate of Fatal Teen Crashes Highlight Need for Parental Involvement
, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, March 25, 2013
Boston Car Fires More Common Than You Think, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, March 22, 2013