Recently a driver in Minnesota was charged with felony vehicular homicide resulting in death, among other charges such as careless driving and unlawful use of a wireless communications device while driving. The driver received and opened two messages at 3:57, and the accident was reported at 3:58. The victim, a 40 year-old bicyclist and mother of two was pronounced dead at the scene. Additionally, a California woman was found guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter in a crash that killed one. The driver sent 13 texts in a short period before the crash, and took a call just before the accident, all while driving at a high rate of speed. She will be sentenced September 4th.
Is It Worth It?
Distracted driving is a rising cause of accidents and deaths, and more than 3,000 people lost their lives to it in 2014. Florida is stepping up its campaign to alert drivers to the dangers and encourage them to turn off the phone and take steps to stop distractions in the car. Distractions include texting or talking on the phone, and also eating or drinking, putting on makeup and even shaving, or talking with passengers. And before you say “Headset!” a DOT white paper says that it makes no difference. Distraction is distraction.
- 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted.
- 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes are between the age of 20 and 29.
- 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended text conversations while driving.
- Traveling at 55 miles per hour and taking an average of five seconds to text means that you can cover the length of a football field without having your eyes on the road.
While dry facts and figures are very impressive when set in print, they have not been enough to discourage drivers from putting down the device and giving their attention to the road. Nobody believes it can happen to them, and they make some incredible excuses for their own attention to their devices, often while condemning other people for doing the exact same thing. It is for this reason that in 2009 the Heddlu Gwent Police Force in the United Kingdom commissioned a texting while driving PSA, one that schools in the United States deemed too graphic for students to view. Please be advised that the video contains very graphic scenes and is meant to be a realistic depiction of what happens in a distracted driving accident. It is not by any means suitable for younger children.
Parents often speak to insurance agents about obtaining insurance for young drivers under their own policies. We as insurance agents want to speak to parents and to young drivers about very real dangers of texting and driving. Very last thing we want to do is to process this type of claim. Parents, as your kids return to school for the 2015 year, please talk to them about distracted driving, and lead by example.