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April is distracted driving awareness month

The issue of distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions, so it is no surprise that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declared April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It seems that an observant driver need not look too long before coming across a fellow driver staring down at their laps where their device is located at either a stop light or more troublingly in a moving vehicle.

The NHTSA is combating this deadly trend with a “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign where law enforcement steps up its enforcement of distracted driving laws by identifying the guilty parties and issuing tickets.

Just the facts

There is some good news, notably that the number of deaths due to distracted driving has gone down slightly in the past few years. Other important statistics from 2017 (the most recent year with final numbers) include:

  • There were 2,994 distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents, with 9 percent involving teens.
  • Use of a device while driving was 3.6 percent among women and 2.4 percent among men.
  • The higher likelihood of fatalities for distracted women drivers has been consistent since 2012.
  • Between 60 and 80 percent of accidents involve distracted driving.

While women and teen drivers are singled out in these statistics, the number of fatalities among different age groups does not vary greatly. Unfortunately, Louisiana ranks second in the country in distracted driving:

  • Louisiana drivers use their device an average of 2.4 times each time they drive.
  • This number is 20 percent higher than the national average.
  • The state ranks seventh in the number of motor vehicle fatalities.

Still no new laws on the books

Unfortunately, while Louisiana does have a ban on drivers texting while driving, there are currently few laws on the books regarding the use of cell phones while driving. Nevertheless, victims who are injured or the families of someone killed by a distracted driver may choose to pursue compensation for damages. This could be particularly important if the injured supported the family.

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