Since 2009, Doug Horn, a lawyer who concentrates in motor vehicle accident law, has seen a dramatic increase in traffic accidents caused by distracted driving, especially cases related to cell phone use. “It seems as if the cell phone has taken over our lives and, as a result, distracted driving has become epidemic” Horn says. “Not only do distracted drivers create a greater number of collisions, but also a greater risk of serious injury and roadway fatalities”, Horn added.

What started out largely as a teen driver issue, distracted driving has now become a much broader problem as adults have adopted the cell phone to manage both busy personal and work schedules. Moreover, because cell phone use is both habit-forming and addictive, drivers are facing what Horn refers to as a “new universe of risk”.

“It’s a serious public safety concern,” Horn reflects. “Unfortunately, the measures we have taken to try and reduce the number of distracted drivers, like anti-texting laws, are proving to be ineffective. If we don’t find a way to attack distracted driving head-on, the problem is going to get much worse before it gets better.”

Horn believes a solution will be to implement traffic safety communication campaigns that villainize distracted driving. In this regard, Horn has recently put up a billboard on I-70 near Kansas City that urges drivers to “protect themselves” against the threat of drivers who use cell phones while driving. The billboard public safety message, which Horn hopes will serve as a model distracted driving prevention campaign, also associates distracted drivers with drunk drivers.

“Based on the cases I handle, I think distracted driving is every bit as dangerous as drunk driving. The idea behind my billboard is to raise the public consciousness that using a cell phone behind the wheel creates a severe risk of harm to yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.”

Horn’s hope is that his legal work protecting distracted driving victims, coupled with his efforts to advance driver safety, will create the foundation for a more respectable driving culture in Kansas City.