The need to curb distracted drivers and drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol is so dire the federal government has just put them on a nationwide “most wanted” poster of sorts.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigates catastrophic aviation accidents and other modes of transportation, such as highway driving. Based on the outcomes of these investigations, the federal agency makes recommendations for avoiding other serious accidents in the future.
Earlier this month the agency released its “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements for 2021-2022.” Two of the items on this list are:
· Eliminate distracted driving
· Prevent alcohol and other drug-Impaired driving
The NTSB’s call to combat distracted driving is timely, as April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The danger of drivers distracted by their cell phones continues to escalate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people in this country were killed in distracted-driving crashes in 2019 – a jump of some 10% over 2018. (2019 is the most recent year with final data.)
Newer cars come equipped with communication and navigation technology designed to be used hands-free. But, according to the National Safety Council, this actually increases the dangers of distracted driving. Drivers rely on this hands-free tech, thinking it is safe. But anything that competes for the brain’s attention is a potentially grave distraction.
Types of Driver Distractions
The NSC identifies the main types of driving distractions:
· Cognitive – any task that takes a person’s focus away from driving
· Manual – an action requiring a driver to take his or her hands off the steering wheel
· Visual – any task that makes a driver look elsewhere than the road ahead
· Visual/Manual – a task that requires a driver to let go of the wheel and take eyes off the road
While the NTSB has several specific recommendations to reduce distracted driving, it calls on several groups that can play a role in reducing fatal distracted-driving accidents:
· Vehicle manufacturers – factor in levels of distraction when incorporating new technology
· States – strengthen/adopt stronger distracted driving laws
· Commercial transportation – promote safe-driving habits and company policies
The number of people killed in crashes involving drunk drivers (blood alcohol content of .08% or higher) in 2019 was even higher than those who died in distracted driving accidents. The NHTSA reports that one person died in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in 2019 – and that every one of those 10,142 deaths were preventable.
Commercial Truck Drivers’ Failed Drug Tests
A tool introduced last year establishes that drug abuse among commercial truckers driving is a major problem. In January 2020 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration debuted its Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the first database of commercial truckers who have failed a drug or alcohol test.
Over 56,000 truckers had drug or alcohol test violations in 2020. The vast majority had failed drug tests, which includes truckers who:
· Had positive test for drug use
· Declined to take a drug test
· Were found to cheat on a drug test
To combat the scourge of impaired drivers of all types, the NTSB recommends that regulators identify and use science-based measures to prevent impaired driving, and states lower drunk-driving BAC thresholds.
But in both categories – distracted drivers and impaired drivers – the NTSB calls on drivers to act responsibly before taking the wheel and putting innocent victims at great risk.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by another driver, turn to a car accident lawyer to pursue just compensation from all those responsible.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog April 27, 2021