Few people will dispute that texting while driving is dangerous. Now a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, which is funded by insurers, states that the bans on texting while driving have not reduced accidents and fatalities. In fact, they say in some areas, the number of accidents has actually increased. Since no one could possible believe you don’t need your eyes on the road at all times, I decided to probe this story a little more and get the real scoop.
There are laws requiring seatbelts. There is little or no dispute that lives have been saved because of them. If there are more accidents and fatalities in a given year, does that mean seat belts are to blame? There are laws against drunk driving. Who would you be more inclined to blame for an accident? An anti- drunk driving law or a drunk driver? The problem is not with the law! The real problem is that texting drivers won’t stop this dangerous activity; instead, they will hold the phone lower to avoid detection. This defensive strategy drastically increases visual distraction; it leads to an increased risk of an accident, thereby increasing accident and fatality frequency.
The US Department of Transportation says the study is misleading. This should be obvious to the HLDI, but what do you expect from an organization funded by the insurance industry. Research shows that distracted driving laws could, in fact, reduce accidents. Last week the DOT hosted the second annual Distracted Driving Summit. Safety advocates embraced the implementation of more and tougher laws against cell phone use while operating a vehicle; they called for increased enforcement, as well.
Again, the problem is not the law; the problem lies in citizen disobedience of the law and lax enforcement of the law. It is difficult to enforce bans on texting while driving; it is often difficult to observe the driver using the phone. Drivers feel invincible; nothing will happen to them (until it does); it they aren’t likely to get caught, they do not feel the need to comply.
Many safety experts believe that technological solutions such as anti-collision devices in cars, or GPS tracking tools would be more effective in stopping texting while driving. These solutions place additional burdens on automaker and expose them to potential litigation. If the device fails and a texting teen is seriously injured or killed, is the automaker liable? And, what about cost? The public would have to pay higher prices for cars that it is already having trouble affording. Should automakers be respponsible when a texting driver cannot be? Should we pay more for cars because a few senseless people can’t appreciate the danger of this distracting activity? Driving is a privilege, not a right, and if you are granted the privilege, you should be responsible enough to abide by the laws of the road.
Texting is becoming an addiction, especially with teens and young adults. These laws are the beginning of a call to action to stop texting and other phone related distractions while driving. We need to start somewhere to stop texting and other driver distractions. To improve safety on our roadways, we must increase public awareness, enact tough laws, and step up enforcement. There should be consequences for texting while driving. Pay money for a ticket or pay dearly with your life or the life of your precious teenage children. The choice is yours.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when a plaintiff needs necessities of life litigation funding while his/her personal injury litigation is still pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.