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Distracted Driving And Community Awareness

This week Your Legal Corner discusses "Distracted Driving and Community Awareness."

When we are in the midst of a crisis, it is sometimes difficult to see progress being made. However, statistics can sometimes help us determine whether we are headed in the right direction.

According to www.responsibility.org, drunk driving fatalities have declined by 53% from 1982 to 2014. In 1982, there were 21,113 fatalities across the United States whereas there were 9,967 in 2014.

Certainly, many things have changed in the last thirty-two years. Tougher drunk driving laws, more sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlock devices along with the increased popularity of Uber have all contributed to the decrease in drunk driving fatalities.

However, after too many lost lives, a groundswell of public outrage dramatically changed what is acceptable behavior. Due to the advocacy of many, it is no longer socially acceptable to drive while intoxicated.   As a result, there are less drunk drivers on our roadways.

Cell phones

In 1983, the first cell phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x hit the market. Incredibly expensive, it was made popular by Gordon Gekko in the movie Wallstreet.   It was the start of society's love affair with their phone that continues to this day.

Now, no longer used solely for placing calls, today's mobile devices are used for surfing the web, sending email, taking photos and updating your social status on Facebook.

The lure of the cell phone and keeping connected has caused countless motor vehicle accidents. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

Increasing Awareness

Like drunk driving, many families who suffered the loss of a loved one are raising awareness regarding the dangers of distracted driving. School forums, educational campaigns, billboards and public service announcements all have played a role. As a result of their advocacy, legislation has also been passed in several states prohibiting the use of cell phones without use of hands free device.

Importantly, in New Jersey, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety has targeted new drivers in the innovative "Share the Keys" program by targeting and increasing involvement among parents. This program is provided to schools and communities free of charge. For more information, check out www.sharethekeys.com. The Gloucester County Highway Safety Taskforce created a high school video contest challenging students to create their own videos about the dangers of distracted driving. For more information, please see www.gcsaferoads.org.

Technology Advances

Car manufacturers are helping to lead the fight against distracted driving. Most now offer Bluetooth connectivity packages and voice activation controls that allow you to talk and manage your phone hands free.

Accident mitigation technology monitor the area in front of the vehicle for other vehicles, pedestrians and even animals and will activate the brakes to avoid accidents. Many manufacturers offer lane departure technology that will alert you if your vehicle begins to leave its lane of travel.

While many people are still oblivious to the dangers of distracted driving, continued advocacy, education and enforcement will save countless lives.

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss your lawyer and a DUI."

Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational material about the law and is not legal advice.

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