There is little doubt that distracted driving has become epidemic in the U.S. In fact, largely due to studies that show that over 25% of all crashes in the United States are caused by a distracted driver, distracted driving prevention is now America’s top driving safety priority. While the cell phone is responsible for the overwhelming number of distracted drivers, drivers have become more comfortable doing any number of tasks while driving. Thus, based on my personal experience as a crash lawyer, I believe that the percentage of crashes caused from all forms of distracted driving is probably over 50%.
While distracted driving started out as an issue largely limited to teen drivers, it has now grown into an epidemic as more adults are multi-tasking behind the wheel. In fact, adults now represent the largest class of distracted drivers as they take their eyes off the road in order to manipulate their cell phones.
Given the proliferation of the cell phone and the great role it plays in people’s lives, many traffic safety experts believe the problem of distracted driving will continue to grow at a record pace. As a result, distracted driving prevention has become America’s top traffic safety priority.
Preventing Cases of Distracted Driving
Most states (with Missouri being a notable exception) have enacted anti-texting laws to help and reduce the number of distracted driving collisions that occur. Unfortunately, since these texting and driving laws are hard to enforce and the fines are minimal, there hasn’t been a significant reduction in the number of distracted driving accidents that occur. States are now coming to terms with the fact that they must look to new ways to combat distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Prevention in Missouri
One of the most effective ways for Missouri to change the distracted driving culture is through a state-wide public service campaign that encourages all drivers to protect themselves, their passengers, and others on the roadway. As a result, I developed a comprehensive driver safety program that can be implemented by a wide range of driving safety stakeholders to effectively address top traffic safety priorities, including distracted driving. The program is called Drive By Example and is designed to influence drivers to adopt safe driving habits and behaviors that protect against the types of collisions that cause serious injury and death. Based on the core message to drive alert, buckled, and cautious, the principle advantages of Drive By Example is that it:
- Delivers a concise and memorable driver safety message that applies to all drivers on the road.
- Influences drivers to adopt a defensive driving approach to driving that protects the driver, their passengers and everyone else on the road.
- Inspires all drivers to meet an elevated standard of driving to improve the degree of care they have while behind the wheel.
Although distracted driving prevention is a stated longer term objective of the Drive By Example program, the more immediate goal is to significantly reduce accident related fatalities in the regions where the program is implemented.
Ending the Distracted Driving Epidemic
While a program like Drive By Example would allow Missouri to take a leading role in effective distracted driving prevention, it will also take the state lawmakers to set a tone that distracted driving will not be tolerated by enacting a comprehensive distracted driving law that prohibits manipulation of a portable electronic device while driving. When we get those 2 things in place, we will reap the results and reduce the types of collisions that are causing serious injury and death on Missouri roads.