We have all read or heard statistics about the dangers of driving while distracted.
For instance, the Texas Department of Transportation reports that, in 2015, there were 105,783 crashes that involved distracted drivers in our state, including 4,935 in Travis County alone.
Due to these alarming statistics, many people claim that distracted driving can be just as - if not more - dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
While you can find several sources that will tell you the number of distracted driving accidents that occur in Texas or across the country, getting an idea of the actual number of distracted drivers on the road is harder to come by. Unless distracted drivers get into an accident or get caught in the act, we simply don't know about them.
However, a new app created by a doctor and an anesthesiologist in Montreal, Canada, may change that. The app, which is being called a "tool for vigilantes," allows anyone to track distracted drivers and report them - regardless of whether they have law enforcement status.
How Does the New Anti-Distracted Driving App Work?
Dr. Robert Green, who is an emergency department physician and the director of the Nova Scotia Trauma Program, and anesthesiologist Dr. David Bracco developed the new app.
Unlike many other apps of its kind, the new anti-distracted driving app allows anyone who has the app on his or her smartphone or tablet to stand on the side of the road and log distracted drivers as they pass.
The data, which is being collected in Canada, will eventually be used to compile reports about the true number of distracted drivers on the road as well as:
- Where distracted drivers are located
- What time distracted driving commonly occurs
- What types of distraction are most common among drivers.
Those who use the app will log every driver that passes and then enter data about any distracting behaviors and specifics of the driver (such as gender). The app itself is responsible for using software to log precise location, date and time. According to an article in CBC.ca discussing the app, about 20,000 observations have thus far been compiled.
Why Does Getting Accurate Data on Distracted Driving Matter?
Getting accurate data on distracted driving may be critical for its prevention. For that reason, this app is being hailed by many as revolutionary in terms of being a valuable data collection tool.
If more data can be collected on when, where and why people drive distracted, more effective campaigns can be developed designed to combat the problem.
Distracted Driving Is Dangerous and Illegal
Distracted driving is not just dangerous. It is often illegal, too.
While there are no laws prohibiting drivers from looking out the window, engaging in conversations with passengers or eating while driving - all of which are distracting behaviors - there are laws in place banning or limiting the use of a cell phone for talking, texting e-mailing or accessing the web.
In Texas, no statewide law bans the use of cell phones while driving. However, numerous municipal bans exist. The Texas Department of Transportation has published a list of cell phone prohibitions while driving, including:
Drivers with a learner's permit are prohibited from cell phone use while driving.
Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any wireless communication devices when behind the wheel.
School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones.
All drivers are prohibited from using cell phones in school zones.
Many cities have issued an outright ban on texting while driving.
Additionally, in the future, Texas may very well enact a statewide ban on talking or texting while driving that applies to all levels of drivers.
It is unclear whether the new app discussed above, which allows regular citizens to collect data about distracted drivers and their behaviors, would be used to penalize drivers in violation of the law. At this point, it appears the app is for data collection purposes only.
Put Distractions Away
If you are a driver in Austin or anywhere else in the country, it is important that you understand just how dangerous distracted driving can be and that you take action to combat this problem yourself. Never drive while distracted. This means:
Put away your cell phone. If you are tempted by your phone, turn it off while driving and store it out of reach.
Refrain from eating or drinking. Eating or drinking in the car can be convenient, especially if you are running late. However, looking away from the road for even a second to grab your cup of coffee can be enough time to cause a serious accident.
Make sure kids and pets are secured. Kids and pets are very distracting as much as we love them. The best way to protect everyone and reduce the risk of distraction is to ensure that everyone, pets included, are properly secured when traveling in the car. Provide kids with snacks, books or games to keep them entertained and prevent them from distracting you.
Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel. It can be tempting to do your make-up, comb your hair, rubberneck, change the radio and try to do more while driving. We understand the temptation. Still, we urge you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel to reduce your risk of an accident.
Hit by a Distracted Driver? We Can Help You
If another driver who was texting or talking on a cell phone while driving and caused a crash that injured you or your loved one, you may have the right to seek compensation for your losses.
At Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, our Austin car accident attorneys can review your case for free and help you to assess your options. Give our lawyers a call today in order to learn more about how we can help you and your family or contact us online now.