How can we stop distracted driving from becoming the new drunk driving?

In August of last year, 38 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving in Ontario, compared to just 19 killed in impaired driving accidents. This scenario is becoming more and more common across Canada, as rates of drunk driving steadily fall and distracted driving becomes a more serious issue.

In response to this growing crisis, road safety advocates and car accident lawyers have serious questions to address: What can police do to prevent distracted driving? And who bears liability for injuries caused by distracted driving?

Advocacy groups and law enforcement officers around the world have been working to reduce drunk driving for years, and in North America their efforts appear to be paying off. Drunk driving fatalities fell 25 per cent between 2002 and 2011 in the United States. Though Canada is considered the worst of 19 wealthy countries for drunk driving, our rate of drunk driving deaths fell from 0.59 in 2008 to 0.40 in 2012.

These are positive trends, but as car accident lawyers are increasingly finding, reductions in drunk driving fatalities are being offset by gains in distracted driving fatalities. In the USA, distracted driving deaths grew 22 per cent from 2002 to 2011, according to the National Highway & Transportation Administration (NHTA). The numbers are even worse in Ontario, where distracted driving deaths have doubled since 2000. In 2013, one person was injured in a distracted driving accident every 30 minutes.

Raising awareness

What is the cause of this steady rise, and how can advocacy groups and police officers reverse it? According to members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), awareness is vitally important.

“You wouldn’t get into a vehicle with an impaired driver,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told Global News, “but is seems people will still get in [a] vehicle with [a] driver who has a phone.”
Superintendent Chuck Cox agreed. “We have a real serious problem with distracted driving right now,” he said. “And we need to employ the same techniques, and same enforcement we’ve done with impaired driving.”

Police officers across Canada have launched awareness blitzes to publicize the dangers of texting while driving and similar distractions.

Blame on tech companies?

Some injury victims and their car accident lawyers are directing blame for distracted driving accidents at tech companies. In California, a man named Julio Ceja launched a lawsuit against Apple after he was rear-ended by a driver using an iPhone. According to Fortune Tech, Ceja’s lawsuit alleges that the tech giant “has technology to prevent drivers from texting on the iPhones but failed to deploy it, leading to an epidemic of distracted driving “carnage” on the roads.”

Apple is also facing a lawsuit from the parents of a girl who was killed by a driver who was using the company’s FaceTime app.

If you’ve been hurt in an automobile collision, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to discuss your options. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you better understand your legal situation.

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