The DOT Takes on Distracted Driving

Boston drivers can take a lesson from the experience of one 16-year-old driver. She was doing something many drivers, especially teens, engage in while behind the wheel: looking at her cell phone. During those few moments of distraction from the road, she inadvertently swerved, hit a brick pillar and totaled her car. She was shaken up but lucky to escape injury.

Teens Especially Likely to Take Driving Risks

Texting and driving is one of the potentially deadly behaviors more teens take part in during the summer, which HealthDay News calls the "100 deadliest days" for these young people. On each day of the summer, teens take risks including using alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes for the first time. An estimated average 11,000 teens have their first drink each summer day, for example, according to a report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

If teenage drinking is a concern, texting is an epidemic. One trooper commenting on the 16-year-old girl's distracted-driving accident noted that he could see drivers texting "every single minute" while on the road and called this practice "more popular than drunk driving," according to a Chicago news source.

The DOT's Blueprint

The U.S. Department of Transportation is trying to reduce the dangerous use of cell phones while driving. The Transportation Secretary recently announced that $2.4 million in federal money will be used for an enforcement program called Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other. Two states will participate in this pilot campaign, which will increase public education about the dangers of distracted driving and step up enforcement of distracted driving laws.

The new campaign is part of an overall national effort by the DOT, called the Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving, which also includes partnerships with driver education professionals, bringing in curriculum to educate new drivers about the risks of driving while distracted. Under the Blueprint, the DOT also plans to promote the adoption and enforcement of distracted driving laws in the 11 states that have not yet incorporated these laws.

Another component of the Blueprint involves working with automobile manufacturers to improve design. Technology can be incorporated to help reduce car accidents by diminishing distraction from built-in and hand-held electronic devices.

Distracted drivers can negligently cause accidents resulting in injury to others. Anyone who is the victim of a distracted-driving accident should contact a personal injury attorney, who can help obtain compensation for injuries.