Distracted driving is a massive problem that has garnered more attention since cell phone use became commonplace. Cell phones are far from the only cause of distracted driving, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 2012 saw more than 3,300 deaths and 421,000 injuries caused by distracted drivers. According to Forbes, more than 60 percent of distracted driving deaths are caused by drivers who were daydreaming. The NHTSA estimates that the average driver is distracted 30 percent of the time. For whatever reason, many drivers fail to put their full concentration where it belongs – on the task of driving safely.
The proliferation of distracted driving laws has focused on texting. In total, 44 states have some form of ban on texting while driving. Older forms of distracted driving, such as eating, smoking, adjusting the car stereo, talking to passengers and dealing with children while driving have been largely ignored by lawmakers. It may be that such forms of distraction are too difficult to identify by law enforcement and prove in a court of law. If so, it raises the question of how effective other distracted driving laws have been and whether a different approach would be more successful.
The accident statistics make it clear that eliminating or reducing distracted driving would greatly improve transportation safety. Public safety campaigns or technological solutions may prove more effective than new laws. However it is accomplished, getting drivers to maintain focus is a top safety priority.
Source: Yahoo, “Distracted-while-eating citation: Have distracted-driving laws gone too far?,” by Samantha Laine, 20 January 2015