Studies have shown if a driver takes their eyes off the road for as little as 5 seconds, it’s just enough time to get into a serious or even fatal crash. Years of public service announcements and campaigns have repeatedly sent out the message that texting while driving is dangerous and even deadly.
According to a story appearing on the Autoblog website, the American Journal of Public reports that in 2016, approximately 3,500 people were killed in accidents involving texting or distracted driving while an additional 391,000 were seriously injured. In the states where a texting ban exists, the study indicated that there was an annual reduction of between 4% and 8% in distracted driving accidents which ended up in the emergency room.
So far, sixteen states in the U.S. now have passed some form of law banning texting while driving with others prepared to pass similar legislation in the near future.
Some states not only ban using a handheld device but any sort of distraction while behind the wheel. Such distractions may include fussing with music players, GPS coordinates, eating, drinking, grooming or even glancing over at their passengers too often.
Younger, less experienced drivers may seem like the only ones being targeted by such laws, but in fact, people of any age can find themselves engaging in distracted driving. That can mean facing a ticket when caught by law enforcement officers.
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The University of Alabama at Birmingham researcher, Despina Stavrinos suggested in an email that drivers should perform activities like setting GPS coordinates on their phones and other tasks before they leave their driveway. This helps them keep their minds on the most critical task at hand; which is driving.