The dangers that plague our streets and highways are largely already known to us, which makes it even more frustrating when people continue to suffer injuries and deaths as a result of entirely preventable actions. To combat this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is launching its 5th annual “U Text. U Drive. U Pay.” campaign to combat distracted driving.
The campaign, which is backed by a $5 million national media buy and will air in both English and Spanish, offers numerous guidelines to prevent distracted driving accidents:
- Turn off electronic devices and put them out of sight and reach before turning the car on
- Set a good example for young drivers responsibly and with full awareness on the road
- Talk with your teenagers and other young drivers about what it means to drive responsibly
- Speak up if you are the passengers in a car and driver begins using a cellphone
- Always wear your seatbelt, which is your best defense against unsafe and distracted drivers
NHTSA hopes to decrease the number of distracted driving deaths, which totalled 3,450 deaths in 2016 alone. The ads target young drivers in particular in the hope that they learn good driving habits which they will carry with them throughout their lives. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among US teens. NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King wants all drivers to understand that “Taking your eyes off the road for a moment is all it takes to cause a crash and change lives forever. Remember, no text or call is worth a life.”
Distracted Driving Is a Local Problem
Closer to home, distracted driving continues to play a disproportionate role in vehicle crashes, according to statistics released by the NYPD. There were 18,875 motor vehicle collisions in March of 2018, and 5,654 of them involved distractions:
- Inattentive/distracted driving
- Passenger distraction
- Cell phone use
- Other electronic device
- Eating or drinking
To help combat this ongoing, costly problem, Governor Cuomo recently announced a statewide crackdown on distracted driving called “Operation Hang Up”. This effort consists of additional patrols designed to catch distracted drivers and an increased number of checkpoints meant to target drivers who insist on using electronic devices while driving.
The impetus for this sorely-needed campaign is the alarming announcement from the Governor’s office that there was a 91.8% increase in tickets for texting while driving in New York State from 2011 to 2016. Even more alarming is the fact that the final count for 2016 is not yet available, meaning that the percentage increase will likely rise:
- 2011: 9,043
- 2012: 30,370
- 2013: 55,718
- 2014: 76,208
- 2015: 84,794
- 2016: 92,067*
*= partial statistics, full year statistics not yet available.
To make matters worse, the temptations for distracted driving are more numerous than ever. Modern in-car electronics give drivers more music options than they’ve ever had, often come with built-in GPS systems, and sometimes even allow users to make web searches. These systems are usually controlled via touchscreen, which, if used at the wrong time, distracts a driver’s attention from the road while also taking one of their hands off the wheel. With all of these distractions available to us, it’s no wonder distracted driving has become such an epidemic.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a crash caused by distracted driving, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering – and the experienced personal injury lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy can help. We have obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts in New York, such as:
- $6,000,000 settlement for a 34-year-old who was injured when the bus he was riding in was struck by a flatbed truck whose driver was speaking on a cell phone
- $2,500,000 settlement for a motorist who was struck from behind by a tractor trailer whose driver was busy looking for paperwork on the floor of his vehicle
- $2,500,000 settlement after a woman suffered a fractured femur after being stuck by a vehicle whose operator was distracted by talking on her cellphone.