Distracted driving is a problem that affects thousands of families each year. With more than 10 deaths each day, and more than 420,000 injuries each year, the ripple effect of tragedy is staggering. The Canadian government estimates the burden on health care from distracted driving to be about $10 billion each year. In the United States, that number is estimated to be $80 billion. That’s an unbelievable amount of money for something that is almost entirely preventable.
People, companies and governments all over the world are starting to realize just how huge this problem really is. Ontario recently passed new legislation that severely increases the fines and penalties for drivers who are caught on their cell phones. Many states are also increasing their laws and penalties for distracted driving, as can be seen here. Even though there is progress being made, more needs to be done to prevent distracted driving, and Keeping Roads Safe Technologies Inc. is in favor of any new legislation that puts stricter penalties on distracted driving offences.
The vast majority of states — 46 plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands — ban text messaging for all drivers. But those bans are not as cut and dried as they sound.
Five of those 46 states enforce texting bans as secondary rather than primary laws. With a primary law, you can get pulled over and ticketed for that offense alone. A secondary law means that an officer can’t write you a ticket unless you’ve been pulled over for another citable offense, like speeding.
In other words, drivers in Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota – the five states with secondary enforcement — can text while driving, so long as they otherwise keep their noses clean.
In 2013 the fatalities from distracted driving surpassed the fatalities of drinking and driving for the first time. We should be worried that something as common and socially acceptable as cell phones have become have also made their way into our vehicles as an acceptable activity while driving.
Those 421,000 injuries have a ripple effect that goes through their communities to the family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances of each victim of a distracted driving accident. Each incident has a social cost by adding extra burden to the already overwhelmed health care system. And most of these accidents are preventable by simply keeping cell phones out of the hands of drivers.
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