"Strong laws, combined with highly visible police enforcement, can
significantly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel,"
said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in 2011.
So far, it appears LaHood is being proven right. On Monday, the University
of California at Berkeley released a
new study that examines state accident and fatality statistics since California
banned the use of handheld devices while driving. The study revealed that
statewide car accident fatalities have decreased by 22% overall, while
deaths specifically connected to handheld devices dropped by 47%.
Numerous studies and research initiatives have found similar results. In
2011, 2 pilot projects (one in Hartford, Connecticut and one in Syracuse,
New York) concluded that an increase in police enforcement coupled with
publicity campaigns dramatically reduced drivers' use of handheld
devices, according to USA Today. In fact, a representative from the Syracuse
Police Department recently participated in a
distracted driving summit in Jefferson City, Missouri.
After the study period, researchers observed that, in Syracuse, drivers'
use of handheld cell phones was decreased by a third. In Hartford, there
was nearly a 60% drop in handheld cellphone use and a drop in texting
drivers by roughly 75%. "Based on these results, it is crystal clear
that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious
error in judgment, especially when half a million people are injured and
thousands more are killed in distracted driving accidents," said LaHood.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland concurs. "The success of these
pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement
can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior," Strickland
said. "We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and
Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement
and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead."
Currently, Missouri has no laws regulating the use of handheld cell phones
by drivers. Our state's lone texting law only applies to drivers under
21, according to the
Governors' Highway Safety Administration: these young drivers are prohibited from texting behind the wheel, although
some Missouri law enforcement officials have expressed frustration at
the difficulty of enforcing such a ban.
Southeast Missouri car accident attorneys understand that distracted driving is one of the top causes for car accidents
in our area and in the nation. Drivers who use a handheld device while
operating a motor vehicle are 4 times as likely to get into a serious
accident. Using a cell phone while driving gives you the same reaction
time as a driver who is legally drunk.
Distraction.gov, nearly 5,500 people were killed in 2009 because of car accidents that
reported the involvement of a distracted driver. Another 448,000 people
were injured in these types of incidents. Distracted driving accidents
accounted for 20% of all injury accidents. Nearly 1,000 of these accident
reports identified the use of a cell phone as the specific distraction.
These numbers are believed to be low, because in fatality accidents, it
can be difficult to prove that distraction was a factor.
The personal injury lawyers at Aaron Sachs and Associates represent accident
victims in Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Kennett, Sikeston, and throughout
southeastern Missouri. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 1-888-777-AUTO.
Attorney meetings by appointment only