Has driving become a distraction for people who insist on keeping in touch with friends via smartphones? Let’s hope not, but sometimes it makes us wonder as we discover that more and more people – not just teenagers – continue to drive neighborhood streets and highways with smartphone in hand ready to respond to text messages and emails or browse social media.
Distracted driving is more than a nuisance. It can lead to tragedy. Last year, a 20-year-old man was indicted on numerous charges including manslaughter for causing a vehicle crash in Texas that killed 13 people on a minibus returning from a church retreat. The man – Jack Young – told authorities he was checking his phone for a text when the crash occurred near San Antonio.
One-third of adult drivers text, email
About one-third of drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 read or send texts or emails, notes the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention. In addition, distracted driving – including eating while driving – annually causes nearly 3,500 deaths and 400,000 injuries.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that sending or reading a text can take the driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. In such a scenario, when a vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, it will reach a distance of at least 100 yards – essentially while the person is driving with their eyes closed.
Unlawful to text and drive in Kentucky
A recent survey by Harris Poll noted that 40 percent of drivers used their smartphones because they felt obligated to be available for their jobs or didn’t want to upset their boss.
Kentucky is among the 43 states along with the District of Columbia that prohibits drivers from texting. Still it can be difficult for police to enforce the law or determine that a driver was using a smartphone during a motor vehicle accident. Eye witnesses or an admission of guilt by the driver are typically the only ways that police may know that smartphone usage was involved.
A few typical signs of driver using smartphone
Here are some of the more notable signs of a driver distracted while using a smartphone. They:
- Can be seen holding the phone to their ear and talking.
- Drive at slower speeds.
- Veer into the next driving lane.
- Continuously look down.
Smartphone usage among drivers won’t go away. But with a good dose of safety awareness, we just might get through to many of them and avert dangerous or deadly outcomes.