Posted in Distracted Driving on November 12, 2017
Distracted driving is an epidemic and a growing problem both nationwide and in Tennessee. With the ubiquity of smartphones and electronic devices, it’s easier than ever for drivers to focus on something other than the task at hand when they’re behind the wheel. To combat the dangers of distracted driving, law enforcement officers throughout the state, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, county sheriff’s deputies, and city police departments have all joined together to increase enforcement of distracted driving laws.
The penalties for getting caught texting while driving have also increased in recent years. Drivers who are caught texting can be charged with fines of up to $50, while novice drivers can receive fines of up to $100 for a first-time offense. In addition, texting while driving violations are considered “primary” law violations in Tennessee. That means officers are free to pull over drivers for that violation without needing a secondary reason, such as an expired tag or burned out taillight.
How Big Is the Problem?
The number of distracted driving accidents in Tennessee has increased significantly over the past decade. In 2007, the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security reports that there were 1,571 distracted driving accidents in Davidson County. By 2013 that number had increased to nearly 1,900, and there were nearly 3,000 distracted driving crashes in the county in 2016.
Statewide, the problem has grown in all counties. In 2007, 10,347 distracted driving accidents were reported in the Volunteer State. By 2016, the number had increased to 24,773. To address the problem, the state enacted a new law that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018, that will ban using non-handsfree cell phones while driving in school zones.
It can be difficult for law enforcement officers to spot distracted drivers, especially those who are riding in large vehicles such as SUVs and pickup trucks. To increase their visibility and enforcement effectiveness, the THP recently utilized a bus that gave officers a bird’s eye view of the road. On a recent weekend in October, officers issued more than 900 citations to drivers throughout Middle Tennessee. A previous excursion with the bus in April 2017 netted 224 citations.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
A commonly cited statistic regarding distracted driving is that vehicles traveling 55 mph can travel the length of a football field in five seconds. That’s typically the amount of time that it takes to send or receive a text message. That means vehicles can easily cross center lines or even medians and collide head-on with other vehicles, or exit roadways and flip or rollover when drivers become distracted and take their eyes and attention off the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that distracted driving is dangerous because it reduces drivers’ ability to focus on the task at hand—successfully and safely driving their vehicles. In fact, distracted driving can increase the risk of an auto accident by around 23 percent—which is roughly equal to the same effects that drinking four alcoholic beverages has on many drivers.
And while distraction can take many forms, the biggest threat to drivers, their passengers, and other motorists are activities that require looking away from the road. In most cases, that means sending and receiving text messages and emails, or using smartphones to view social media accounts. People who use their smartphones while they’re behind the wheel frequently move their eyes back and forth from their devices and back to the road, which significantly increases their risks of being involved in crashes.
How Can Drivers Reduce Their Risks?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there are three main types of distraction:
All three forms of distraction can be deadly, and in some cases, drivers engage in all three simultaneously, causing their chances of being involved in a crash to skyrocket. Many enforcement and awareness programs focus heavily on the act of texting while driving, as it often involves all three forms of distraction.
Knowing the risks of distracted driving and the types of distraction can help drivers reduce their chances of being involved in accidents. But it’s also important to stick to a distraction-free driving routine every time you get behind the wheel. That means taking the following steps:
Avoiding distractions behind the wheel won’t just help save your life—it could also save the lives of your children. Teen drivers are among the most likely of all drivers to be involved in distracted driving accidents, and setting a good example for them at a young age can help reduce their chances of texting while driving, making phone calls behind the wheel, or using social media while they’re on the road.
Matt Hardin Law Helps Nashville Distracted Driving Accident Victims
Because distracted driving is such a major epidemic on Tennessee’s roadways, it’s important to get in touch with an experienced Nashville auto accident attorney right away if you were hurt in a crash that wasn’t your fault. If you wait too long to call, evidence can disappear, and the statute of limitations may even expire—both of which can jeopardize your chances of pursuing compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
Our legal team has years of experience building strong claims for people who were hurt in distracted driving accidents, and we know what to look for to prove that the other driver’s focus was anywhere but on the task at hand. Call (615) 200-1111 or fill out an online form today for a free consultation with our attorneys. We have more than decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims, and we’re ready to put that experience and track record of success to work for you and your loved ones.