Not just a bumper sticker slogan…

 

Hang up and drive! Last month, a Massachusetts teen was convicted of homicide as a result of texting while driving and will serve one year in prison. A landmark case for the state, Aaron Deveau, 18, was found guilty on charges of vehicular homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle in a 2011 crash that fatally injured a 55 year-old man of New Hampshire, and seriously injured the deceased man’s   passenger.

On the same day of that court decision, the US Department of Transportation issued a “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” which offers a comprehensive strategy to address the growing and dangerous practice of using handheld cell phones while driving. The plan develops steps  that lawmakers, safety organizations, families and specifically younger drivers  can take to reduce the risk posed by distracted driving. The blueprint is an attempt to stem the tide of distracted driving accidents. Statistics don’t lie: At least 3,092 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes In 2010, that’s approximately one in every ten fatalities that occur on US roadways!  Despite that sobering figure, surveys show that respondents “acknowledged few driving situations when they would not use the phone or text, yet reported feeling unsafe when riding in vehicles in which the driver is texting and supported bans on texting and cell phone use.”  Which begs the question:  Have you answered the phone while driving?

A total of 39 states have distracted driving laws; this blueprint calls for the remaining 11 to “enact and enforce such critical legislation.” Going beyond the driver, the auto industry is being called upon to adopt new and future guidelines for technology to reduce the potential for distraction on devices built or brought into vehicles.

Both Texting and cell phone use while driving are illegal in Washington; if you’d like to know more about Washington’s key highway safety laws, please visit: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/bystate/wa.html

The young man in Massachusetts, who was convicted of homicide, told the police after the life altering-accident:   “ . . . I was distracted. When I looked away for one quick second, I came too close to her and I was trying to hit my brakes.”  A second too long.  The Seattle Department of Transportation urges drivers, especially young drivers caught up in the fun of summer, to be vigilant and hold those calls until the engine is turned off.  No call or text is more important than a life.