April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Alameda residents may already have seen some ads from the multi-million-dollar media campaign launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aimed at getting drivers to put down their cellphones while behind the wheel.
The campaign focuses mainly on drivers between the ages of 18 and 34, statistically the age group at the highest risk of death in distracted driving accidents. The NHTSA has recently reported that nearly 3,500 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2016. That includes more than 560 pedestrians, bikers and other victims who were not in a vehicle at the time.
Driver distraction contributed to nearly 10 percent of all deadly car accidents that occurred in 2016. Drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were the most likely to be distracted in a fatal accident. In addition, drivers aged 15 to 29 had the highest rates of cellphone usage behind the wheel. The NHTSA provides some guidance for drivers, such as turning off devices, setting good examples for teenage drivers and communicating with them about good driving habits.
Awareness campaigns and statistical research are important in keeping the issue alive in the public consciousness. They can lead to safer roads and lives saved. But the families of those thousands killed each year, not to mention those who have suffered serious injuries, also need to be kept in mind. A personal injury lawsuit can help them pursue compensation for the damages they incurred after being in a car accident caused by a distracted driver.
Personal injury claims can of course help with victims' financial losses. But an understanding of their potential liability in an accident can also act as another deterrent to would-be distracted drivers.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "U.S. DOT and NHTSA Kick Off 5th Annual U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Campaign," accessed on April 7, 2018