By: Morgan Gaynor
Until recently, the trend for deaths from traffic crashes was uniformly
encouraging. For a period of about forty years ending in 2014, traffic
deaths declined steadily. Unfortunately, that trend reversed itself in
2015, with deaths spiking at the greatest percentage rate in 50 years.
The death rate has now returned to a level last seen in 2009.
It would be nice to think that 2015 was a complete anomaly. Unfortunately,
available data for 2016 indicates yet another increase from 2015. The
head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls
this “a crisis that needs to be addressed now.”
What’s going on? Most experts believe the discouraging jump in deaths
is due to - you guessed it -
As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Car
makers added new hands free technologies in the last decade to prevent
distraction caused by fumbling with phones or tablets. Unfortunately,
that didn’t completely solve the problem. That’s because using
technology while driving still takes your mind off the road, even if it
doesn’t require you to physically pick up a phone or tablet. To
put it another way, the
cognitive demands of a phone conversation are the same even when it’s conducted
through a Bluetooth.
Because most of us drive so often, we tend to think of it as a routine
activity. The truth is that driving is a complex physical and mental task
that requires vigilance. You never know when driving will require you
to make a crucial split-second decision. Our brains simply aren’t
wired to give driving our complete attention when we’re trying to
do other things.
In the long run, driverless technologies such as Tesla’s Autopilot
system may begin to help with this problem. However, those technologies
are still too far off to prevent driving deaths and injuries in the next
several years. They may also end up having problems of their own, such
as susceptibility to hacking and system failures.
That leaves us with some old-fashioned advice for today’s drivers.
To prevent being part of the increased carnage around us, please consider
the following suggestions:
- Stay off your phone when you’re in motion. If a conversation is really
necessary, pull over and have it then.
- Consider public transportation, and fare-paying services like taxis and Uber.
- Plan. Figure out which music you’re going to listen to before you
start your car and stick with your choice. When you’re going somewhere
unfamiliar, learn the major points along the route instead of just trying
to follow navigational instructions as they’re given.
- Have fun at your holiday celebrations. Just don’t drive home.
These steps may increase your chances of enjoying these holidays, and help
you avoid contributing to some unfortunate statistics.Should you or a
loved one ever require legal assistance after being injured in a
car accident that was not your fault, our personal injury lawyers at Roman & Gaynor
are always available to help. We serve Clearwater, Pinellas County, and beyond.
Contact us to speak with an attorney.