U.S. DOT Issues New Proposed Guidelines to Handle Distracted Driving

There is no question that distracted driving is a major problem in cities like Boston and across the United States.  While many people may not realize this, it is becoming a bigger problem, in terms of the number of accidents, than drunk driving.  The reason for this is because so many people engage in distracted driving every time they get behind the wheel.

iphoneThere are an increasing number of distractions as technology advances.  While some are obvious, like using a handled smartphone to text, surf the web, or even navigate using Waze or Google Maps, there are many other types that are less obvious. 

One fact of which many drivers may be unaware is that even using a Bluetooth speaker and microphone to talk on the phone or listen to and write texts or emails is distracting.  Just because you are not constantly looking at a screen, does not mean you are not being distracted, as we are talking about mental distractions in addition to visual distractions.

Even driving is considered a divided attention task, which means that you are required to process many tasks at once while constantly being distracted by new tasks, and we are only talking about the tasks necessary to drive rather than responding to a text message. With distracted driving becoming such a problem, the U.S. Department of Transpiration (DOT) has just issued new proposed guidelines to address the issue of distracted driving involving electronic devices, according to a press release from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

First, it should be noted that these are voluntary guidelines that involve the agency’s second phase in its plan to fight distracted driving.  While voluntary guidelines are obviously not binding, this makes things much easier for the agency in terms of scope of executive powers. Primarily, NHTSA is asking everyone behind the wheel to do all the following:

  • Put down your cell phone and pay attention to the road at all times;
  • If you are using a GPS device, set your destination before you start driving;
  • If you are a passenger and the driver is engaging in distractions, you should speak up because safety is everyone’s responsibility; and
  • Always wear you seatbelt when in a vehicle no matter where you are sitting.

While these all seem like common sense, as our Boston car accident lawyers have seen in far too many cases, people do not heed this advice, and not doing so results in many serious and fatal distracted driving crashes each year.

One thing people may not realize is that their phone is recording basically everything they are doing these days.  This includes writing text messages, but also your location and even the speed at which you are traveling.  Not only is the phone a way to get you in an accident by distracted driving, the plaintiff’s attorney may be able to obtain the phone’s data during the discovery process and use that to prove the plaintiff’s case.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers for a free and confidential appointment — (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

U.S. DOT proposes guidelines to address driver distraction caused by mobile devices in vehicles, November 23, 2016, NHTSA

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Boy Survives Internal Decapitation in Car Accident, June 21, 2016, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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