For years, the California Highway Patrol has done a fantastic job keeping our roads safe from dangerous drivers and reducing vehicle injuries and fatalities. That job has grown more difficult with the rise of technology and distracted driving, but the CHP will team up with 225 local California police agencies to establish 103 California Highway Patrol Area Commands and enact a “zero-tolerance policy” to combat distracted driving through April; the country’s second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
California does not keep an official tally of the car accident injuries and fatalities directly attributed to distracted driving. But the US Department of Transportation predicts that in 2009, distracted driving caused 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries nationwide. While distracted driving is dangerous for all ages, it disproportionately affects young people. “Teenagers tend to think they’re invincible and can multitask while driving,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow. “In reality, they’re inexperienced when it comes to driving and they need to recognize the responsibility and the risks associated with the privilege.”
When it comes to laws against distracted driving, California leads the pack, with strict laws against texting and the use of handheld cell phones while driving. About 20 states, however, have not enacted any sort of law against texting, despite the nearly unanimous agreement among scientists that the practice is dangerous and deadly. So while states like California, Oregon and Washington are praised for strict safety regulation during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, others including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Nevada will no doubt catch some scrutiny for their insufficient distracted driving laws.
We’ll be covering news and events related to Distracted Driving Awareness Month throughout April at the GJEL Blog. Follow our blog and our special April Facebook Page. for major stories including the 5 most dangerous distracted driving technologies, the best and worst states for distracted driving laws, distracted driving issues for adults, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s master plan for eliminating distracted driving in years to come.
Have a great, and SAFE, Distracted Driving Awareness Month!
Photo credit: Lord Jim