The first comprehensive overview summarizing and analyzing distracted driving research for state officials was released last month by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The report looked into research from more than 350 scientific papers published between 2000 and 2011. The report, Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, looks into the habits of distracted drivers and their influence on car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere in the United States. It also looks into creating countermeasures to reduce the risk involved with distracted driving.
“Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the report’s development. “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”
Our Chicago car accident attorneys would like to share with you some of the hard facts associated with distracted driving:
-Distractions limit driving performance.
-Texting likely increases accident risk more than cell phone use.
-Drivers are distracted as much as half the time they spend behind the wheel.
-Drivers are able to adapt to some extent. They are able to pay more attention to driving and reduce their distracting activities when presented with a risky driving situation.
-Distractions are involved in traffic accidents an estimated 15 to 25 percent of the time.
-Cell phone use increases traffic accident risks.
This report asks that states implement the following countermeasures:
-Continue to leverage effective, low-cost roadway countermeasures like edgeline and centerline rumble strips. These features alert motorists when they are drifting out of their driving lane.
-Keep track of distracted driving influences in accident reports so that the information can be used to evaluate distracted driving laws and programs.
-Implement distracted driving communication programs.
-Monitor the impact of existing hand-held cell phone bans before looking into enacting new laws. A number of states that have yet to pass handheld bans should wait until more definitive research and data is available on the effectiveness of these laws.
-Look into other distracted driving laws and programs. Evaluation of these programs will provide the information that states can use to decide which countermeasures are effective and which are not.
-Create and enforce a texting ban for all drivers. Include a complete cell phone ban for novice drivers.
-Enforce all existing cell phone and texting laws.
-Assists employers in developing and enforcing distracted driving policies and programs.
“While distracted driving is an emotional issue that raises the ire of many on the road, states must take a research-based approach to addressing the problem. Until more research is conducted, states need to proceed thoughtfully, methodically and objectively,” says GHSA Harsha.
High-visibility enforcement for texting and hand-held cell phones is important in enforcing current laws. Enforcement efforts are an effective way to help change motorist behavior.
“Our report includes the preliminary results of these cell phone crackdowns, which have prompted dramatic declines in hand-held cell phone use and texting behind the wheel. The final results are expected shortly and should be considered as states move forward with education and enforcement initiatives,” says Harsha.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident with a distracted driver, the Chicago injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free consultations to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.
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