An estimated 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in this country in 2020, the most recent year for which finalized data is available, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Another 400,000 people suffered injuries in these accidents. The Governor’s Highway Safety Administration and General Motors recently collaborated on a new report that calls for serious changes to address the problem.
Scale of problem
The GHSA and GM report examines shortcomings that led to the disturbing trend in distracted driving car accidents. To begin with, the number of fatalities and injuries attributed to distracted driving do not fully reflect this problem because of underreporting.
The most obvious form of distracted driving is using electronic devices. But this driving also involves behavior such as grooming, eating, daydreaming and other types of inattention.
According to a 2021 AAA survey, 51 percent of motorists admitted that they text or email on their electronic devices while they were alone in their vehicle. Use of wireless devices while driving is common according to observational studies.
The report contained 29 recommendations for states to adopt. Significant proposals include:
- Greater investment in changing the safety culture involving distracted driving including public education, programs for the community and youth involvement.
- Encourage federal, state, and local leadership to prioritize distracted driving as a safety challenge and dedicate mores resources to address it.
- Create a new national advocacy organization to represent distracted driving accident survivors and emphasize efforts combating this problem.
- Expand partnerships with stakeholders such as insurers, technology companies, safety advocacy groups and state highway departments to expand distracted driving programs.
- Improve distracted driving laws to empower police enforcement and deter offenders.
- Support equitable and high visible enforcement of distracted driving laws and measure their effectiveness.
- Utilize technology and devices for enforcement such as safety cameras which can detect inattentive motorists.
- Obtain more effective data such as prevalence data from technological and corporate partners.
Distracted driving can cause fatalities and serious injuries and constitute grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Attorneys can help victims and their families obtain evidence and pursue a legal action.