Distracted Driving Is a Dangerous Habit

Car accidents remain the leading cause of death for individuals 5-35 years of age in the U.S. Leading the list of factors contributing to fatal car accidents is distracted driving. The effects of inattentive driving are far more serious than many people realize.

On December 1, in Pembroke, Georgia, three semi-trucks and a passenger car were involved in a serious truck crash on I-16 in Bryan County. The accident occurred when one semi truck hit another, causing a third to jackknife.

The passenger car involved in the accident was forced to swerve to avoid the semi trucks, causing the vehicle to smash into a tree. No serious injuries were reported. The accident occurred near the Pembroke 280 exit around 10:00 pm.

Every year, there are over 30,000 fatalities and millions of injuries on U.S. roadways. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 5,474 of those fatalities and 448,000 of those injuries were attributable to distracted driving.

In addition to the tragic loss of human life, the financial burden to state and local governments is also great. According to the Center for Disease Control, medical care and lost productivity costs from car accidents exceed $99 billion annually.

The five states with the highest medical care expenses and work productivity losses due to car accidents include California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Georgia is estimated to lose $1.5 billion every year from automobile accidents.

Distracted Driving Commonly Causes Rear-End Car Accidents

Among the most common types of car accidents attributable to distracted driving are rear-end collisions. The National Safety Council reports that rear-end collisions make up 30 percent of all accidents. Unsurprisingly, rear-end collisions are often preventable.

Despite the efforts to raise awareness of the risks, distracted driving is on the rise. In a recent study, 75 percent of driver's reported talking on their cell phone while driving, and 40 percent reported doing so regularly or often.

Distracted driving is a broad category of behaviors. It is often synonymous with such activities as texting or eating in the car, but it can include any activity that ultimately distracts a driver from their primary purpose of paying attention to the road.

Because of the high societal costs associated with car accidents, both in terms of human life - including serious personal injury and wrongful death - and economic loss, many state legislatures began implementing preventative policies to address the growing epidemic. In 2010, Georgia passed two pieces of legislation targeting distracted drivers. The first prohibits all drivers from writing or reading text messages while driving. The second prohibits drivers under 18 from using any wireless device while driving.

With distracted driving on the rise and statistics suggesting that distracted driving doubles the risk of rear-end collisions, it is likely that Georgia lawmakers will continue to evaluate ways to reduce this dangerous practice.