How many times have you seen someone obviously texting while driving? I recently drove by a guy who was operating his phone with both hands while he steered his car with his knees. I’m sensitive to the danger posed by distracted driving, both as a lawyer who represents clients charged with traffic offenses and as a father of a child approaching driving age. The more we learn about the danger of distracted driving, the more we understand it may be as hazardous as drunk driving. Consequently, driving while texting may someday carry penalties like those for DUI (known as OVI in Ohio).
Matt Richtel‘s recent article in the New York Times presents a good discussion of this issue. According to the article, the problem of driving while distracted by a cell phone is getting worse. Surveys show Americans not only continue to text but also take selfies, use Snapchat and post on Facebook while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), 3,477 people in the United States were killed by distracted driving in 2015, and another 391,000 were injured. NHSTA chief Mark Rosekind says it’s increasing, and “radical change requires radical ideas”.
The Movement To Decrease Distracted Driving
One idea for change comes from Candace Lightner, founder of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. Lightner has formed a new group: Partnership For Distraction-Free Driving. That group is gathering signatures on a petition for social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to discourage drivers from multi-tasking.