For more than four decades, highway traffic deaths had been steadily declining. But in 2015, those fatalities had their largest year-to-year percentage increase in about 50 years.
Early numbers for 2016 are looking even worse. In the first six months of the year, deaths increased by 10.4 percent (up to 17,775) from the same period in 2015, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Law enforcement officials and highway safety experts believe this trend is due in large part to distracted driving being more prevalent and problematic than ever before. People are no longer using their phones while driving just to make calls or send texts — they’re now also using a variety of apps that, in some cases, actually encourage their use in the vehicle.
Snapchat, for example, has a filter that records the speed of a moving vehicle. Pokémon Go has led to drivers getting behind the wheel to search for Pokémon in their cities. Waze awards points to drivers who report accidents or traffic jams.
Even apps intended to assist drivers and keep their attention on the road, such as various hands-free navigational systems, are thought to actually make drivers more complacent, lulling them into a false sense of security. Although many vehicles are now being made with Bluetooth connectivity to allow drivers to respond to calls and texts without having to take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road, the problem overall appears to be getting worse.
Distracted driving extremely dangerous
Distracted driving is just as dangerous as operating a vehicle while intoxicated. People who take their eyes off the road are unable to react to sudden changes in conditions or hazards that appear in front of them, leading to an increased likelihood of an accident occurring.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, seek legal assistance from an experienced Bradenton personal injury lawyer at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh.