Distracted driving in Illinois and other states causes many accidents and claims lives. Texting, in particular, ranks as one of the leading causes, along with eating, applying makeup, drinking and interacting with passengers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), distracted driving caused 3,000 U.S. fatalities in 2019, not including accidents where the cause was more challenging to isolate.
A multifaceted approach may be key to ending distracted driving accidents, using laws, enforcement, technology changes and personal responsibility to make a difference.
New laws and enforcement
Many states have traffic laws regarding cell phone use while driving, but rule-makers may need to create new, more strict laws to reduce distracted driving motor vehicle accidents.
Additionally, enforcing the laws regarding cellphone use while driving and other distracting behaviors presents challenges. However, more rigorous enforcement of distracted driving laws can reduce the accident and fatality rate.
Many people use their cell phones while driving to communicate with their family, take business calls or earn a living such as a paid driver. Some drivers do not fully grasp how dangerous their distracted driving is; others continue to do so even while understanding the dangers.
Educational programs can be used in schools, at work and in other settings to inform drivers about the real risks and lives lost due to distracted driving accidents.
Changes in technology
Some cell phones have functions allowing users to opt-in to settings that turn on a do-not-disturb function once they begin driving. However, many people choose not to opt in to the function or know how to enable it otherwise.
Newer car technology can detect distracted driving and sound alerts, while cell phone apps can disable phones while driving and send reminder messages to stay focused on driving. Current technology may not allow any calls to come through, even in an emergency, although this could change in future software updates.
Taking personal responsibility
Laws, technology and education can make a real difference in distracted driving accident rates. However, drivers must also take responsibility for their actions by genuinely and consciously trying to avoid distracted driving.
Actions include avoiding phone use while driving, not eating or drinking while operating a vehicle and avoiding other activities that divert the driver’s attention from the road.
A multifaceted approach to end distracted driving fatalities can work if law enforcement, drivers, tech companies and auto manufacturers collaborate to implement safer driving practices.