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Articles Tagged with distracted driver

Washington residents likely know that the use of mobile electronic devices while behind the wheel can be dangerous, but they may not be aware of how serious the problem is. Accidents involving a distracted driver claimed the lives of over 3,000 people around the country in both 2011 and 2012,, and more than 400,000 people were injured in these collisions in 2012. While the increasing popularity of smartphones is a global phenomenon, a 2011 study found that drivers in the United States were far more likely to use these devices while driving than their European counterparts.

Young drivers are involved in distracted driving auto injury accidents at a higher rate than more experienced motorists, and they are more likely to send or receive a text message while behind the wheel. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that almost half of American high school students of driving age admit to texting while driving, and these students are also more likely to drink and drive.

While laws are being passed to curb the use of mobile electronic devices by drivers, it is not yet known how effective these measures will be. Other efforts to tackle the problem involve public awareness campaigns designed to drive home how dangerous distracted driving can be. The 171 billion text messages received or sent in the United States during December 2012 is an indication of how necessary these steps are.

We have written previously about the hazards of distracted driving. We have also written about various efforts within the tech industry, the automobile manufacturing industry, the government and safety organizations to curtail this practice. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that unless lawmakers completely outlaw interaction with any kind of personal electronic device and dashboard technology while driving that motorists will continue to engage in distracted driving behaviors. And it is possible that they will do so even if this behavior is completely outlawed.

As a result, many businesses and organizations are trying to figure out numerous ways to minimize the distracting nature of various devices. The logic behind this innovation is that some motorists may choose to interact with personal electronic devices, dashboard technology and other distracting technology no matter what. But if innovations can somehow lead distracted drivers to become less distracted, some lives may be spared as a result.

Most recently, some designers have been questioning whether a relatively simplistic change to dashboard technology may help to reduce the distracting nature of these interactive devices. The longer that motorists keep their eyes on a device and off the road, the more they risk accidents. If the typefaces used on these devices are more easily readable, perhaps motorists will be able to get their eyes back on the road more quickly.

Washington has never before examined the distracted driving behavior of its residents in detail. In an effort to reduce the number of Washington distracted driving accidents that occur annually, researchers at the University of Washington have completed the first detailed examination of electronic-related distraction concerning residents of the Evergreen State. The results of the UW study are frustrating.

In essence, the UW study determined that nearly 10 percent of Washington drivers are engaging in distracted driving at any given time. Of those distracted drivers, nearly half are engaging in texting behind the wheel. UW researchers determined these statistics after randomized observance of the behaviors of nearly 8,000 drivers at controlled intersections in six Washington counties.

One of the study’s principal investigators recently explained that, “These findings suggest that distracted driving is more common than we thought and that texting has become a major cause of distraction. Most people support laws restricting texting and cell phone use in vehicles, yet some choose to engage in behaviors that put everyone on the road at risk.”

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