Distracted drivers are creating a national epidemic of personal injuries and property damage. Distracted drivers cause thousands of injuries every year in Washington state alone. Nationally the dollar losses are enormous. It is hard to believe that the publicity surrounding the effects of distracted driving has done nothing to deter this dangerous practice. The current laws prohibiting driving while using an electronic device seem to be largely ignored.
It seems that everywhere we go numerous drivers are on the phone as they cruise the streets. When we stop for a light, assuming the driver behind stops, it seems that half the drivers around have a phone pressed to their ear. Next they roll through the crosswalk, narrowly missing pedestrians and other drivers. I suspect everyone has experienced the driver who stays behind when the light turns green, head down in the “red light prayer” position of texting, tying up traffic and creating more congestion, increasing the risk to everyone.
It isn’t just pedestrians and other motorists who are at danger. There is a grave risk to bicyclists and motorcyclists, in two days one motorcyclist was killed and another injured by a distracted driver one in Clark County and another in Vancouver Washington. Distracted drivers have also caused a dramatic increase in high speed rear end collisions. These crashes often involve drivers who do not brake at all. The irresponsible drivers often have no clue traffic ahead has stopped until the mayhem is done. We have seen this with cars, trucks, buses and semis – tractor trailer rigs weighing 80,000 pounds.
When a driver is talking on a cell phone they might just as well be driving drunk. No one is safe from distracted drivers. If the driver is texting the risk is even greater than being drunk, yet we see drivers tapping away at their phones everywhere we go, even on interstate highways in heavy traffic.
How can this practice be stopped? The rules that keep us all safe only work when they are enforced, and the enforcement leaves a mark. When those jurors hold distracted drivers responsible the word gets out, drive distracted and a small fine isn’t all you will have to pay.