Distracted Driving Leads to Increased Vehicle Accidents in Dallas County
As cellphone use and texting has become the prime form of communication for millions of Americans nation-wide, the issue of distracted driving has also grown. Dallas County residents are no exception. Numerous fatal accidents have occurred due to texting and other distractions that drivers face while on the road, including cellphone use, listening to music, and talking to friends.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 200,000 people were injured in accidents last year, many of those occurring in Dallas County. About 90,000 of those accidents were due to driving while distracted. Sadly, 450 Texas residents lost their lives in 2012 from being involved in an accident caused by distracted driving.
What is distracted driving?
Distraction.gov, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, defines distracted driving as, “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” These activities include:
- Reading (maps, papers.)
- Cell phone use.
- Talking to passengers.
- Listening to music/Adjusting the radio.
- Using a navigation system.
- Eating and drinking.
All of these distractions can lead to a potential disastrous accident while behind the wheel.
What are the laws regarding distracted driving?
While the state of Texas does not yet have a state-wide ban on cell phone use or texting while driving, many cities are taking the matter into their own hands. Arlington, for example, has prohibited texting while driving within city limits.
State-wide, drivers under the age of 18 are banned from using cellphones while driving for the first year after getting their license. With many states turning to mandatory hands-free cell phone use or complete prohibition of cell phone use while driving, Texas is expected to follow suit.
What is being done?
Texas DOT is actively exploring new ways to lower these staggering accident rates. The Dallas district of the department is using simulated driving to show others the potential dangers of driving while distracted. Using a modern simulator created from an actual vehicle with a screen displayed above the steering wheel, participants undergo a driving video game depicting various situations that must be faced while driving distracted.
How to stay safe while driving
Use the following tips to ensure that you aren’t the cause of a distracted driving accident:
- Make it a rule to never talk on your cellphone while driving. If you do need to answer the phone, invest in a hands free device.
- Never text while driving. NEVER. Wait until you are able to stop to text your message.
- Adjust your music and other items before starting out on your drive.
- Educate your family and friends on the dangers of distracted driving.
If you are involved in an accident involving distracted driving, contact an experienced attorney to inform you of your rights. Texas laws are constantly changing on this issue, and so working with a professional when faced with a distracted driving car accident is always advisable.