Distracted driving is fast becoming an epidemic. With every driver having a cell phone (that probably does a lot more than text or make calls) and every car coming equipped with on-board GPS and entertainment systems, the ways a driver can be distracted is on the rise. So now the question arises: who should be responsible for the fight against distracted driving? Should cell phone companies install apps that prevent texting or is it the responsibility of auto companies to make sure the in-car technology is keeping everyone on the road safe? The consensus was that everyone needs to chip in at a distracted driving hearing hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 5400 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2009, so it’s obvious that some action needs to be taken.
We are pleased to announce that Andrew Garcia of Phillips and Garcia, PC has become the newest sponsor of Teens Against Distracted Driving! As an injury attorney, he knows firsthand how dangerous texting and driving can be. Mr. Garcia is going to help spread the world about the dangers of distracted driving throughout the Massachusetts area, helping TADD in our goal to get a bracelet on the wrist of every teenager in America–and their pledge to never text and drive! Welcome to the TADD family, Mr. Garcia!
This is a guest article by Brooke Kerwin, a passionate advocate against distracted driving.
With the influx of smart phones taking over the population over the last few years, there has certainly been an increased effort to limit the effect that technology can have on driving. In the past year or two, tablets have become the tech product to start to sweep through the market, and along with that success there’s an inevitable safety risk that’s come when they’re being used in an automobile.
The most popular tablet-style device on the market is the iPad from Apple. In the same way that some of their previous products, like the iPhone and iPods before them, the iPads can certainly pose a risk in the automobile. Distracted driving is something that can arise from a number of different things, whether it’s something outside the car or something inside it doesn’t really matter.
Today’s tablet explosion has happened because of their ability to combine a number of different entertainment platforms into one. A number of these entertainment platforms are things that people rely on for car rides, including personal music, checking e-mail, listening to the radio, and even movies or television for passengers riding along. The problem becomes similar to the use of a smart phone in a car. Often time’s drivers can become distracted by trying to tune into an online radio platform, or trying to span through their music in the tablet’s library.
The use of a tablet by a passenger can even end up leading to a case of distracted driving. Someone riding in the passenger seat could be watching a movie or streaming a sporting event, causing the driver to begin taking constant looks down to check on what’s going on. Certainly one of the bigger risks with distracted drivers is constant lapses in attention, which is something tablets in the car can definitely end up causing.
In the end, it’s important to be clear on what’s distracting inside the car. For some drivers, having a tablet in the car for minimal use or letting others in the car may not be that harmless. Regardless over individual effects, there’s no question that as technology continues to develop, there are going to be a litany of new hurdles in the effort to minimize distraction inside the car.
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If you’re under 18 and get pulled over in Seattle, you might not get a ticket—but that doesn’t mean you won’t pay. Seattle University School of Law has partnered up with Garfield High School to create a new Seattle Youth Traffic Court. Students at Garfield will staff every part of the court, from the judge to the jury and court reporters. The court will only deal with minor traffic infractions (those that do not involve any injuries.) Students will be encouraged to practice “restorative justice;” forming creative solutions to keep students from repeating the same mistakes. If you find yourself in the Seattle Youth Traffic Court in lieu of a ticket you might be sentenced to an essay for your school paper or chores for the person whose property you damaged.
Law students from Seattle University will be coaching the students on their different roles, and all those who appear before the court must serve on a jury there twice in the future (in addition to whatever sentence is handed down to them by the court.) It’s more than allowing those who appear before the court to keep their record clean of rookie mistakes (or save their parents some money on insurance) but also to get everyone involved to think about the larger implications of their actions. When you are in the car, it can be difficult to see how allowing yourself to be distracted by friends or a phone can affect others. With the Youth Court, perhaps the offenders and court members alike will begin to understand the broader affect those dangerous choices can have. Hearing it from an adult is one thing, and let’s face it, they already have. Being able to come to conclusions on your own or collaboratively with your peers creates a much more substantial and long-term effect on behavior.
Sound off below– is this a good idea, or should teenagers just be ticketed like everyone else?
Learn more about the Seattle Youth Traffic Court.