Distracted driving is a nationwide epidemic, and the youngest drivers are often the most affected. Most drivers have witnessed young people texting and talking while behind the wheel, and one in four wrecks are the result of distracted driving. Scrolling through music lists and using a GPS while driving are also very dangerous, as they take driver focus off the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) report on distracted driving estimates that close to half a million people use their phones while driving, even though most are aware of the dangers. Drivers aged 15 to 29 are involved in the most distracted driving accidents. Drivers in this age group are twice as likely to be in a wreck than seniors. Moreover, research shows that fatal crashes due to distracted driving have increased 17 percent over the last four years.
Home and auto safety organization SafeWise rated South Carolina as the third deadliest state in the U.S. for car accidents. Mississippi ranked first, and Alabama came in second. At three times the national average, South Carolina’s state record for car crashes is much higher than states with considerably larger metropolitan areas like New York and Washington, DC.
Why are South Carolina roads so dangerous for young drivers? Although a ban on texting while driving was passed in 2014, the fine is only $25. This has not worked as a deterrent.
South Carolina State Rep. Bill Taylor argues part of the problems is that officers do not write enough tickets, largely because it is hard to prove the drivers are texting. He pointed out that South Carolina has about five million residents, yet only around 1,300 texting-while-driving tickets are written each year. The state does not ban using hand held devices while driving; and neither do Mississippi or Alabama.
Currently, the state law only bans texting while driving, making the rule difficult to enforce. Drivers can claim that they were only talking on the phone, consulting a map, or use another excuse. Taylor wants to change this law. He also supports proposals that expand the ban to holding a device while driving, and to increase fines and penalties. A spokeswoman from AAA Carolinas agrees; she feels that the issue has become even more significant than drunk driving. She is also pushing for stricter penalties for drivers in order to stop the distracted driving epidemic.
Communicating facts and statistics to younger drivers may not work, since they are less experienced and often feel they are invincible. one North Carolina woman co-founded the motor vehicle safety nonprofit group, Choices for Chase, after her brother was killed in a car accident in 2012. The group stops at area high schools during prom season, and the founder shares her story and shows the actual tailgate from the truck that her brother died in. She feels that reaching out directly to younger drivers is an effective tool. Seeing what can happen with their own eyes can have a lasting, positive effective on young drivers.
If you or someone you care for was a victim of a distracted driving incident, you need a skilled car accident lawyer on your side. The Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. offer professional counsel and guidance for all types of car accident cases. Contact us online or call 803-929-3600 or toll free at 800-531-9780 to schedule a free consultation at one of our six office locations.
We serve clients throughout South Carolina, including those in the communities of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.