Federal Government Targets Distracted Driving

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that critical changes are needed to address distracted driving to reduce car accidents and traffic fatalities. Accordingly, the NTSB placed this issue on its most wanted list of transportation safety improvements.

The NTSB determined that greater use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) has caused or was a contributing factor in highway accidents. It determined that a distracted driver was involved in 10 percent of the 35,000 traffic fatalities in 2015. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that deaths in distracted driving accidents rose by 8.8 percent from 2014 to 2015.

Meanwhile, State Farm Insurance issued a report finding that almost 30 percent of surveyed drivers admitted to using the internet while they were driving in 2015. This was a significant increase from the 13 percent reported in 2009.

While drivers engage in other distractions, such as eating or adjusting the radio, use of a wireless device is riskier because drivers spend more time on these devices than engaging in any other activity. The NTSB predicts that use of PEDs by motorists will increase.

Driving requires 100 percent of the driver's attention. Using electronic devices not only takes away the driver's attention from the road, it takes attention away from the mental task of driving. Reading a text or talking on a cellphone can have catastrophic consequences even though it only momentarily diverts the driver's attention.

In 2011, accordingly, the NTSB recommended a nationwide ban on using PEDs for all motorists. Recognizing the lax and inconsistent state laws, it again recommended states to ban driving while texting, using cell phones or using electronic devices by all drivers.

In 2015, Oklahoma banned texting and driving for all motorists. However, the state only bans drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate license from using handheld devices such as cell phones.

This reckless behavior will continue to put Oklahoma motorists and their passengers at risk. Victims of a distracted driver and their families may wish to consider seeking legal assistance to help assure that they can attempt to procure compensation for losses suffered in these accidents.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "Most wanted list of transportation safety improvements/eliminate distractions," Accessed Feb. 12, 2017

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