It’s April- National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Safety Council designates this month as a time to spread awareness about the deadly epidemic. According to Distraction.gov, more than 3,100 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in distracted driving car accidents during 2014. As we move into another year’s initiative, it’s important to recognize the increasing number of distractions that put drivers at risk for causing an accident.
Advances in technology have no doubt had a role in the distracted driving epidemic. A 2013 CNBC article reported that 27 percent of car accidents were caused by drivers distracted by cell phones. The author suggested that the cell phone boom is adding to the already costly problem of auto accident injuries and fatalities.
Not only is the cell phone increasing in popularity, but so are compatible software applications, known as “apps”. Last year, a Georgia man filed a lawsuit against Snapchat because of injuries sustained by a distracted 18-year-old driver in a 2015 accident. The young woman was using the Snapchat speed filter and traveling more than 100 mph when she crashed into the plaintiff’s car. The Snapchat lawsuit claimed the app promoted reckless driving by rewarding points for high speeds.
During Summer 2016, Niantic released the popular augmented reality app, Pokémon Go. The game sent players out to hunt for fictional creatures known as Pokémon in their own world. Children and adults alike became focused on catching all 150 Pokémon, but they sometimes failed to adhere to safety regulations. According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Pokémon GO was the cause of 14 distracted driving crashes within a span of just 14 days. The study also found that drivers and passengers distracted by the game sent more than 100,000 distracted driving related tweets during the same period. One driver was sentenced to jail as punishment for fatally striking a nine-year-old boy with his vehicle because he was distracted by the game, Japan Times reported.
Human Resource Executive Online reported on December 21, 2016 that Microsoft planned to release an Office365 connectivity to the 2017 Mercedes Benz production vehicles. The personal assistance software would operate through a dashboard infotainment system, and allow drivers to schedule meetings, hear and respond to emails and join conference calls without having to manually input phone numbers and passcodes. Per the article, dashboard manufacturer Harman boasts drivers can complete tasks without compromising safety. But this addition may just be another distraction for drivers. One CEO commented that when such distracted driving accidents occur, the technology could more easily establish employer liability.
More than a quarter of car accidents involve cell phone use. In most cases, SnapChat, Pokemon Go, and Dashboard communications require the use of a cell phone. As social messaging apps, augmented reality games, and commuter-friendly office technology improve and increase in popularity, the number of lives unnecessarily lost because of distracted driving could also increase.These wrongful deaths can be prevented. This April, be part of the solution. Learn how you can spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving at www.EndDD.og. Help end the epidemic.