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Are distracted driving laws preventing motor vehicle accidents?

Cell phones are not new technology, but the many ways in which they have changed our lives still feels new. Though they have improved communication and other parts of modern life in countless ways, they have also presented society with new challenges. Distracted driving is one of them.

Despite knowing the potential dangers, far too many people insist on using their cell phone while driving. Many states, including New York, have responded by outright banning cell phone use behind the wheel. Some instituted partial bans, based on the driver's age or the function performed on the phone, such as texting. Though these laws aren't going anywhere any time soon, some are questioning their efficacy, especially since statistics show that many people ignore the law.

What the numbers reveal

One study found that, across the country, more than 3,000 people die in a crash caused by distracted driving each year. Some experts say that this number may be much higher, since people may not want to admit that they were using a cell phone while driving when a crash occurred.

Several companies have responded to this problem by creating software to monitor driver behavior. Some of the apps even reward drivers for practicing safe driving habits. Unfortunately, as well intentioned as these apps are, some companies admit that their data shows that many people still engage in distracted driving.

Just how distracted are drivers?

One company known as TrueMotion found some disturbing evidence about the level of distraction for drivers. Its data shows that for every one hundred drivers, at least seven of them engage in distracted driving 20-25% of the time. At least one driver in one hundred is distracted around 45-50% of the time. While that may not seem like much, if you happen to encounter that driver, it could mean disaster.

TrueMotion also found that distracted driving rises during the winter holidays. Presumably, this is because people are busier and want to communicate with family and friends. The company found that the holiday season shows a rise in distracted driving by nearly a third.

The upside

Fortunately, all of this data still shows that people are paying attention to the new laws. Most states report that rates of distracted driving are either dropping or not increasing as quickly as in the past. The National Safety Council reports that fatal crashes involving cell phone usage have dropped over the last few years. The concern is that the rates overall are still too high considering the increased awareness of the dangers.

No matter what the statistics say, if you or someone you care about has a motor vehicle accident because of distracted driver, it can be devastating. Even if the driver faces criminal charges, you have other options for holding him or her accountable. No one should ever have to suffer because of someone else's carelessness behind the wheel.

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