By Ken Harrell, Managing Partner
Most responsible drivers (including most teen drivers) are well aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. Every year, our law firm sees several cases where a fatality or serious injury has occurred due to a drunk driver causing a car crash. What most people may not realize is that other distractions, such as texting while driving, may pose an even greater danger.
Our law firm is starting to see almost as many cases where texting while driving led to the accident as cases involving drunk driving, although it can take more effort and discovery work to prove that the at-fault driver was using his or her phone to text when the accident occurred. This is especially a rampant problem among younger drivers. Last fall, Joye Law Firm was hired by the family of a 47-year-old man who was killed while on his way to work when a teen-aged driver who was using her phone crossed the center line and crashed into his car at a high rate of speed. To make the situation even more tragic, the at-fault driver was a classmate of one of the victim’s children.
There is scientific proof of the danger of texting while driving as well. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actually concluded that driving while texting was six times more dangerous than driving while drunk. NHTSA found that sending or receiving a text causes the driver’s eyes to be averted from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If traveling 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blind-folded.
To help curb the problem of distracted driving, our lawyers at the Joye Law Firm have pledged to participate in the “End Distracted Driving” campaign. Our attorneys will appear at several South Carolina high schools during the year ahead to give presentations on the dangers of using cell phones while driving. End Distracted Driving (EndDD) is an organization started by attorney Joel Feldman, who was motivated by his grief over the death of his 21-year-old daughter Casey. Casey was killed when she was crossing a street in a crosswalk and she was struck by a car whose driver took his eyes off the road for a few seconds to read a text. EndDD has now coordinated presentations on distracted driving at hundreds of high schools nationwide. For more information on the organization, visit www.enddd.org.
If we can prevent one tragedy with these presentations, the effort will be more than worthwhile. We look forward to working with EndDD during the year ahead and we urge everyone to do what they can to impress upon teenagers how dangerous distracted driving is.