No. 1176



If you are guilty of using your cell phone while you are driving, please raise your hand! You could not see mine, but it was raised, too.
Probably 95 percent of those of us who have a cell phone use it while driving, at least some of the time. Of course, this has not been an issue until more recent times, as now practically everyone – about 81 percent -- has a cell phone or a Smart phone. You have probably observed, as I have, that when you sit in a doctor’s waiting room with many other patients, practically everyone is on a cell phone or mobile device.
Because of the widespread use of these devices, we now have a major problem of accidents because of distracted driving. It’s kind of hard to drive an automobile at 70 miles per hour and talk or text on the phone at the same time, and yet many of us are bound and determined to try. There are two primary considerations with regards to having an accident because of distracted driving. The first is loss of life, and the second is the cost of tangible property as the result of an accident.
The real question now becomes: What would it take to get us to change our habits and not talk or text while driving an automobile? The first obstacle we have to overcome is human nature. It is just human nature to think it will happen to the other guy, but it won’t happen to me. And then we would need to observe the misery of those who have cried their eyes out due to the loss of a loved one killed or seriously injured in an automobile crash because of distracted driving.
To add to what I have been saying, here are some statistics that may cause all of us to change our habits. I try to be so careful and I know you do, too, if you are guilty of talking or texting while driving an automobile. I might add, my sin is just talking, as I have never texted while driving and never plan on it.
According to a federal study, distracted driving crashes in the U.S. cost as much as $175 billion per year. The National Highway Safety Administration says ALL highway crashes add up to $871 billion -- $277 billion in costs and $594 billion in societal harm. Factors contributing to the price tag include productivity losses, property damage, medical and rehabilitation costs, congestion costs, legal and court costs, emergency services insurance, administration costs, and the cost to employers, among others.
Needless to say, distracted driving on the part of millions of Americas is very, very expensive. However, the loss of human life should be motivation for any of us to change our ways. The latest statistics show that one in four automobile accidents is caused by distracted driving.
Here in my state, they have pulled out all the stops by having former National Football League Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre do a series of public service announcements about the hazards of distracted driving. This is a campaign paid for by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas. An automobile accident caused by distracted driving hits them in the pocketbook, but they are also the ones in the best position to know the real cost in terms of human lives and dollars and cents.
Regardless of the numbers, writing this column has been very sobering for me, because when a person is dead from a distracted driving crash, they are dead. Hope you will also give some serious thought to what I have been saying. Life is too short anyway, and we should not have it cut short by someone on a Smart phone or cell phone. Be safe!!
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