With more than 37,000 deaths on the country's roads and highways every year, our Alameda readers might think that safe driving practices would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, just the opposite seems to be true: as distractions proliferate, some seem to be forgetting that negligence behind the wheel leads directly to dangerous and potentially fatal car accidents.
For example, the latest "challenge" to go viral on social media began when one young man's video of himself dancing to a new hit song began attracting millions of views and spurring others (even some celebrities) to upload similar videos. But things took a serious and reckless turn when some drivers would put the tune on, set their smartphones to record video, then hop out of the car and dance alongside while the empty car continues down the road. These videos became so popular that the National Transportation Safety Board addressed it on social media, quoting the hook from the song and reminding drivers to stay buckled up and in their cars.
While no one has thus far been reported as injured in an accident related to the challenge, the trend of an increasingly careless attitude towards motor vehicles is a matter of concern. Drivers who regularly take their eyes off of the road to check their cell phones, for example - sometimes for an extended time as they read and compose text messages or status updates - are a significant factor behind the NTSB's total of 37,000 car accident deaths per year. And that does not factor in victims who survive an accident with often serious injuries.
There may come a day when safe, attentive driving becomes the norm for all drivers. Until then, victims will continue to exercise their legal rights to hold negligent drivers accountable in court for the damages and losses they cause.