An alarming rise in traffic fatalities in the past two years have left experts scrambling to find a reason behind the trend. Surprisingly, the increase in deaths may be attributed, at least in part, to the increase in the use of mobile devices while behind the wheel. In fact, the connection has led some to plead for new regulations that would eliminate a driver’s ability to use those apps while driving a motor vehicle.
Media reports have discovered that while increased awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving had led to decreasing fatalities on the nation’s roads, 2015 and 2016 have actually seen an uptick in traffic deaths. After an eight-percent increase in fatalities in 2015, 2016 has been shaping up to be even more deadly. The first six months of 2016 saw a nine-percent increase in fatalities over the previous year. Numbers are not yet available for the second half of 2016, so time will tell whether the second half of 2016 will see a similar increase.
Distracted driving a national epidemic
One of the reasons for the increase in fatalities is likely a larger number of cars on the road due to lower unemployment rates. People are using their cars to commute to their jobs or simply get out and about now that their income levels have increased. Reduced gas prices may also be driving the trend. However, distracted driving may be another reason that has safety experts seriously concerned.
According to the federal government, distracted driving played a role in around 10 percent of the 35,000 traffic fatalities in 2015. Distracted driving can mean a number of things, from eating to using a phone while behind the wheel. One thing is for certain – distracted driving of any kind is a significant danger on roadways. Today, distracted driving has expanded from simply talking on a cell phone to sending texts, browsing the Internet and using a host of different apps like Snapchat and Waze.
“I’d put it as one of the biggest causes of accidents,” Steve Tomzik, battalion chief of the Streamwood Fire Department in Illinois told the Chicago Tribune. “A lot of people in cars are now so self-contained, they’re really not paying attention. They’re eating a sandwich, talking to their friends, running their lives. You should be paying attention to what you are doing.”
Tomzik admitted to the Chicago Tribune he has actually witnessed distracted drivers weaving in lanes, creating a similar danger to those driving while under the influence. Tomzik added that he has seen devastating consequences in many of these accidents, including drivers and passengers going through windshields and others pinned underneath vehicles.
To combat at least a large percentage of this danger, safety officials have proposed that makers of smartphones create software that would lock drivers out of their ability to text or go online when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Drivers would still be permitted to make calls and navigation systems could still be accessed as long as they instructed drivers on how to use the system without distraction. Other functions, including texting, reading text and browsing the Internet would not be allowed.
Legal assistance in Louisiana
When you are the victim of a distracted driving accident, the consequences of that event can be life-changing in a variety of ways. Your injuries may prohibit you from working, while medical bills to treat your injuries can continue to mount.
Victims of distracted driving accidents need experienced legal help to ensure their rights are protected and they receive every type of compensation allowed under the law. Louisiana car accident lawyer Bart Bernard has the experience, skill and resources to help victims maximize the value of their claim. To schedule a free case review, call 225-275-BART in Baton Rouge or 337-989-2278 in Lafayette.
- New York Times, Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/business/tech-distractions-blamed-for-rise-in-traffic-fatalities.html?_r=0
- Chicago Tribune, Traffic Deaths on the Rise as Distracted Drivers Roam the Roads, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-traffic-fatalities-up-met-20160823-story.html
- Chicago Tribune, Feds Seek to Block Apps, Texting from Drivers’ Phones, http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/sc-phone-block-distracted-driving-autotips-1208-20161123-story.html