Traffic fatalities are rising for the first time in many years, and the reason for the increase might surprise you. Your first guess would probably be that instances of drunk or impaired driving made the numbers spike, but distracted driving due to our ever-growing dependence on electronic gadgets like cellphones is the real cause. Currently, a Houston auto accident claim is more likely to be the result of drivers text messaging someone or reading a text message sent to them. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has had a tremendous effect on reducing the number of annual deaths across the country. Perhaps the day is coming when a similar group will form to prevent drivers from texting or using their cell phones while they are behind the wheel.
Last year, deaths across the nation soared by 8 percent according to the National Safety Council. That is the largest increase in traffic fatalities in over 50 years. The death toll has already risen 9 percent during the first six months of 2016, which does not bode well for year-end statistics.
Texting is not the only cause of the problem. Drivers are increasingly checking their email, eating fast food, playing games like Pokemon Go and using apps to get directions while they are driving. Laws might have a chilling effect on this behavior, but it is more likely that society needs to adopt a negative attitude to such behavior. Experts say the situation will get worse before it improves. Cellphone use is distracting enough, but surfing the web or checking social media requires more attention and is more likely to be the cause of a Houston car accident.
Traffic fatalities are likely to exceed 40,000 this year, and although that is better than the 55,000 recorded in 2007, it is an abrupt spike when compared to recent statistics. Improved airbag systems, heightened awareness and stricter laws regarding impaired driving have all contributed to lowering the figures previously. An increase in compliance with the enforcement of safety belt laws also cut down on fatalities.
Lawmakers are searching for new ways to help solve the distracted driving problem. A device called the totalizer can check to see if a driver was using a phone at the time of an accident. The Supreme Court has recently ruled that police need a search warrant to access cellphone records according to a Houston traffic accident lawyer.
The solution to the problem is obvious. Drivers must resist the urge to interact with their cellphones and other devices. Until then, distracted driving will continue to cause the number of traffic fatalities to spiral.