Distracted Driving Is Everyone's Problem - Computers Multitask, Drivers Don't

Mobile devices have made it easy to stay connected. Combine texting, tweeting or email with driving and you have a recipe for disaster.

This past week I had the pleasure and honor of speaking to approximately 250 students at Lakeville South High School on a topic that has become an epidemic in our country, distracted driving. The response I got from the kids and adults who participated in the presentations were overwhelmingly positive. It dawned on me that the more outreach we do the better our chances of getting control of this serious problem. Therefore I am providing you with information I hope you find useful. 

Smart Mobile Devices Create Even Greater Risks

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,474 people were killed in 2009 in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. Looking at the big picture, that means 16 percent of all fatal crashes and 20 percent of all accidents across the country in 2009 involved distracted drivers. Other studies suggest:

  • Drivers on the phone are four times more likely to crash
  • Driving while on a cell phone (whether handheld or hands-free) reduces reaction time as much as being legally intoxicated
  • Teen drivers are most likely to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported (16 percent of all teen crash fatalities in 2009)
  • Texting or emailing creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted


More Drivers Accessing the Internet

In a new survey of nearly 900 motorists, State Farm Insurance found that the use of mobile Web services has increased dramatically in the last two years. The data showed that, for all drivers, accessing the Internet while on a cell phone increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2011, and from 29 percent to 43 percent for drivers 18 to 29. Ironically, the study also showed that texting while driving remained flat or decreased in most instances, perhaps due to the increasing number of states that ban texting. “Calls from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and others to ban cell phones are focusing now on both texting and Web use while driving. The mobile Web is a growing issue for safety advocates concerned about distractions while driving,” said David Beigie, State Farm public affairs vice president.

Tips for Managing the Distractions

Here are 10 tips from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) for managing some of the most common distractions while driving:

  1. Turn It Off – Either turn off your phone or switch to silent mode before you get in the car.
  2. Spread the Word – Set up a special message that tells callers you’re driving and will respond as soon as you can. You can enable some phones to do this automatically when you get in the car.
  3. Pull Over – If you need to make a call, pull over and stop in a safe area first.
  4. Deputize Your Passengers – Ask your passengers to answer or make calls for you. Conversely, if you are a passenger, offer to answer the driver's phone.
  5. X the Text – Don’t ever text and drive, surf the Web or check email. It is dangerous and against the law in most states.
  6. Know the Law – Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you start driving. Some prohibit the use of handheld cell phones in addition to texting. The GHSA offers this useful chart. http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/bystate/index.html
  7. Prepare – Review maps and directions before you start to drive. If you need help when you are on the road, ask a passenger or pull over to review your directions again.
  8. Secure Your Pets – Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you start to drive.
  9. Keep the Kids Safe – Pull over if you need to address situations with your children in the car.
  10. Focus on the Task at Hand – Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, reading and any other activity that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off your driving.


Our law offices have been helping injured people for over 60 years. Located in historic downtown Lakeville feel free to stop by, call or email with any questons. You can contact me at 952-469-2288 or email me at kos@knowyourrights.com. Visit our website at www.knowyourrights.com and feel free to follow us on facebook and twitter.

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ABSG June 05, 2012 at 01:16 PM
"5,474 people were killed in 2009 in crashes involving driver distraction"? Is this in the entire USA? Let me be clear death no matter how it happens is tragic. But looking at the numbers that's a "very very" small percentage compared to the entire driving population. And you can't definintively prove that all of these 5,474 distractions were caused from "cell phones". I have never seen a study that has. The figures that are thrown around are approximations (I believe to be used as scare tactics - the sky is falling). The fact of the matter is that people will continue to do things in their cars - I am of the belief that every single person understands that there are certain unwritten rules and risks associated with driving. You may not make home becuase of a multitude of possible events. We as a society can not try and eliminate every possibility. There are 1000's of accidents and deaths during Winter driving - are we goign to ban Winter driving ? Is the State liable because they didn't keep the roads snow/ice free? And then there is the arguments - talking with people in car, radio's, eating etc etc etc......why not just BAN EVERYTHING we do from the moment we step out of our front doors? It's Ludicris!
Art Kosieradzki - Lakeville Attorney June 07, 2012 at 04:20 PM
ABSG, thanks for your comments regarding distracted driving. No matter how you feel about the situation I think all discussion helps with awareness which is good for everyone. It's ultimately up to each of us to decide whether we feel it's OK to text and drive or do any number of things people do while driving that not only endangers their life but the lives of others as well. The 5,474 deaths were obtained from research notes (http://letamericaknow.com/content/downloads/1204/NHTSA.DDFacts.2009.pdf) compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These are actual numbers from accidents they research. Of the 5,474 deaths, 995 can be directly related to reports of cell phone use. Having represented numerous victims of car crashes I can tell you the majority of the time we can't directly attribute the incident to cell phones or other DD events. The wrongdoer simply won't admit to what they did. I'm confident the number is actually much higher. Nonetheless the 5,474 represents 16% of all fatal accidents reported and the 448,000 injuries represents 20% of accidents with injuries. The real issue is not the statistics compiled but rather the lives destroyed. Take a few minutes and watch this video put together by a colleague of mine whose daughter was killed by a distracted driver. It helps us remember that death is real and this is about much more than just statistics. http://enddd.org/blog/the-impact/dot-video/
ABSG June 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM
You are picking "cell phones" as the basis to ban something only because it's a physical object you can touch and feel or able to prove reason/fault, yet you can't prove the countless other distractions that are supposedely causing way more accidents so those seem to be less important in your message. Are you in favor then of just banning everything inside the car besides the gas and break pedal? No more passengers, no radios, no eathing, no talking, no glove boxes, no storage compartments, etc etc etc......? I think you are right - "It's ultimately up to each of us to decide whether we feel it's OK to text and drive or do any number of things people do while driving that not only endangers their life but the lives of others as well." I beleive this is part of the unwritten rule and the acceptance all of us agree to when we get behind the wheel. Anyone of us may not make it home at night becasue of any number of things. But to go around and cherry picking something that in the grand scheme of things is actually a really small percentage is the wrong idea. I am fine with prevention, but going around trying to get everything we humanly do banned is ludicris and more of a danger to society.


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