Technology has brought many improvements to our day to day lives, whether by allowing us the convenience of looking up directions when we’re lost, or by allowing us to conduct quick research online. However, technology has also created new complications and potentially dangerous situations. For example, before cell phones were invented it was unthinkable that you would write a message while driving, whereas in today’s age, texting while driving has become a widespread problem that can lead to potentially deadly auto accidents.
A new study released by the University of North Texas Health Science Center reported that in between 2001 and 2007 over 16,000 people lost their lives as a result of car accidents caused by drivers who were texting. Despite these numbers, less than 20 states have adopted legislation that places bans on texting while driving. Illinois is among the few states who have laws against texting and driving; however, it will take more than legislation to stop the drivers from texting.
Many of those opposed to texting while driving have advocated to an approach similar to the one used to encourage drivers to observe seat belt laws. Prior to the 1960s, many cars did not come equipped with seat belts and many drivers and passengers did not see the value in using seat belts when they were introduced. It wasn’t until people began to associate seat belts with safety that they began to adopt the buckle up mentality. Today many parents won’t even move their car until their children’s seat belts are in place to prevent car accident fatalities. As a result, most people automatically buckle up when they get into a car. It is this type of strategy that we need to apply to texting while driving.
Parents and educators need to educate kids and teens of the importance of not using a cell phone or electronic device while driving. One suggestion has been that parents place a ban on the use of cell phones in the car, both for passengers and for the driver. If kids are going to adopt this policy, then they need to practice what they preach – parents and adults need to stop using cell phones in the car, too. As the saying goes, change starts at home; if we want to decrease the number of texting auto accidents, then we need to be part of the solution.
And in case we need more convincing about the importance of being focused while driving, there are additional statistics that show an increase in distracted drivers over the last decade. In 1999, only about 11 percent of all traffic deaths were caused by distracted drivers; by 2008 it had risen five percent, with 16 percent of all traffic deaths resulting from distracted drivers. Similarly, only about 33 percent of all Americans had cell phones in 1999, whereas by 2008 over 90 percent of all Americans had cell phones. So while new technology has made our lives easier, it has also brought with it additional distractions, which can be dangerous and deadly when combined with driving.
The recent report of the spike in texting-related car accidents has highlighted the need to change our habits. In 2002, America had an average of one million texts per month; by 2008 it had risen to an average of 110 million texts per month. While texting is a quick and convenient way to communicate, it has no place in the driver’s seat. If we want these statistics to change, it is imperative that adults instill a notion to our youth that distractions while driving are deadly.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois auto accidents cases and Chicago personal injury matters for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Chicago’s Bridgeport, Bensenville, Inverness, Winfield, and Des Plaines.
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