The Associated Press and other major firm-overview/news outlets reported texting while driving may have been a contributing factor in the bus crash in rural Texas that killed 13 people returning from a church outing this week—highlighting the dangers of operating smartphones while behind the wheel.
According to the AP, a witness reportedly said the 20-year-old driver of the pickup truck that struck the church minibus head on approximately 75 miles west of San Antonio acknowledged he had been texting just before the collision. Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Conrad Hein wouldn’t comment on the cause, but officials have said the truck appeared to have crossed the center line.
Of course, distracted driving isn’t a new problem, and despite efforts to pass new safety legislation and continuing public safety awareness programs, injuries and deaths continue to mount. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015, and while distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention, including talking or texting on the phone, eating or drinking, or talking or interacting with people in the car, texting is the most alarming distraction. That’s because sending or reading a text takes your attention off the road for five full seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
But every American can be part of the solution. Here are three things the NHTSA recommends we can all do to increase awareness and take a stand against distracted driving:
- Lead by example. No one should text and drive, so the most powerful thing you can do is be an example for others. If you need to text or talk on the phone, pull over to a safe place before doing so. Putting your phone away in a bag or the back seat until you reach your destination will help you avoid the temptation to check the phone when it beeps or rings.
- Give clear instructions. Set rules for yourself and your household regarding distracted driving and communicate them clearly and often. Give new drivers simple, clear instructions not to use their wireless devices while driving. Before new drivers get their licenses, discuss the fact that taking their eyes off the road—even for a few seconds—could injure or even kill someone.
- Become informed and be active. Tell family, friends, and organizations to which you belong about the importance of driving without distractions. Take the information to your kids’ schools and ask that it be shared with students and parents.
At Stevenson & Murray, we’ve seen the aftermath of distracted-driving cases, representing numerous plaintiffs injured by distracted drivers. Have you or a loved one been involved in an accident where distracted driving may have been a contributing factor? We can help. Call us today at (713)597-3836 to discuss your case in a no-obligation consultation.