Last week's two-day Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC has wound down to a close. During the summit, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood revealed new findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to these, in 2008:
- 5,870 people were killed in accidents involving a distracted driver.
- 515,000 people sustained injuries in accidents involving distracted drivers.
- Approximately 16 percent of all fatal accidents last year involved distracted drivers.
- 22 percent of accidents that involved injuries, were caused by a distracted driver.
- The highest risk group for distracted driving comprised, not surprisingly, of those aged below 20.
Distracted driving here refers to
- Use of car phones and cell phones
- Text messaging while driving
- Use of GPS systems
- Distractions from DVD players
- Distractions from children
- Distractions from the driver lighting a cigarette
- Distractions from adjusting the radio
- Distractions from reading
- Talking with passengers
- Snacking while driving
- Distractions from automated highway signs
- Applying makeup
- Use of handheld and hands-free cell phones
- Use of laptops, PDA's, fax machines and printers
- Adjusting the air conditioner and heating
- Adjusting windows, seat, seat belt etc
The summit also included an announcement read out by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in which President Obama declared a ban on federal employees text messaging while driving. Federal employees are now prohibited from using cell phones while driving government owned, issued or owned vehicles, as well as privately owned vehicles if they use government-issued phones. The summit ended with a call for more states to impose bans on texting and the use of handheld and hands-free cell phones. Are Georgia's lawmakers listening?
Jason Schultz is a Fulton County personal injury lawyer representing injured victims of automobile accidents in Fulton County, and across Georgia.