Are You a Distracted Driver?

Most people are aware of the dangers of distracted driving.  We all know to put down our phones, take out our earphones and to have our vision and attention remain focused on the road.

But how many of us actually put away our devices and drive completely undistracted?  We know the signs, we pass someone and their head is down, seemingly looking at a smartphone or other electronic device and it has become so commonplace that we do not register it as anything particularly dangerous.  They might take longer to register a red light turning green and it annoys us, but distracted driving is becoming more than a mere inconvenience.  It is a serious danger.

According to a study done by South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 25% of the 1,400 respondents admitted to texting and driving at least once a month.  Further studies have shown that distracted driving is even more dangerous than driving drunk, seeing as texting can reduce reaction time up to 35%, while driving under the influence was shown to reduce reaction time up to 12%.  While neither behavior is safe for driving, texting and driving is becoming a dangerous and consistent problem among drivers today.

Consistent Problem

In Greenville County, 70 people were killed on the road in 2017, 16 of whom were pedestrians.  In neighboring Anderson County, 43 people died, 4 of whom were pedestrians.  Sadly, these numbers are only trending higher year after year in a state that is known for high numbers of traffic related fatalities.  Over the last four years, Greenville County has seen more than 300 traffic related deaths.  Greenville County has become one of the worst in the state when it comes to traffic fatalities, and has led the state in numbers over the last three years.  South Carolina as a state, in 2017, saw over 1,000 people killed on state roads, a number which is glaringly high and an embarrassing one at that.  While distracted driving is not the leading cause of deaths on the roadways, DUI, speeding and ignoring a seat belt take a majority of the numbers, it is a rising problem that needs to be addressed among drivers young and old.

A very disturbing survey shows that young drivers still text and drive, despite being aware of the dangers caused by this.  An alarming 25% of teens admitted to texting at least once every time they drive, but perhaps even more unsettling, one third of respondents 18-24 believed that they can drive safely while texting.

Insurance Rates

Distracted driving is more than just an inconvenience and danger, it is also expensive.  Insurance rates are showing a trend of rising rapidly, due to an increasing number of accidents caused by distracted driving.  On a national level, insurance premiums have increased 16 percent since 2011 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  Insurance companies in South Carolina have started campaigns to bring a stop to distracted driving, even offering an online pledge to sign as well as call the behavior #inexcusable.

South Carolina Distracted Driving Laws

South Carolina is still one of the few states that does not have a statewide ban on texting while driving or cell phone use while driving.  This does not make the behavior acceptable though, with South Carolina still experiencing terrifying numbers of accident related deaths year after year.  Most recently being 2017’s death toll of over 1,000 people killed on South Carolina roadways after aiming for zero fatalities.

Since the state does not have statewide laws on cell phone use while driving, it allows for cities to enact bans on their own.  Because South Carolina Legislature has not been able to pass statewide distracted driving laws, more and more cities have been enacting bans to combat this increasing danger.

At the moment, there are bans on texting while driving in Camden, Columbia, Walhalla, Clemson, Sumter, Mount Pleasant, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort and West Union.

Knowledge is Power

While there are many troubling statistics with this issue, much of the continued engagement in these activities is possibly a result of lack of public education.  Based on responses from the study, approximately 20% of motorists didn’t know the distracted driving laws in their states and 60% were unaware of the penalties for breaking the distracted driving laws in their communities.  There is proof, however, that more investment in public education and ENFORCEMENT could reverse the trend in distracted driving numbers.

Until recently, the most common cause of accidents that are avoidable, was driving under the influence. However, through sustained education programs, increased penalties for DUIs, and lower blood alcohol limits, alcohol-related accidents have been reduced by as much as 52% between 1982 and 2010. By utilizing many of the same tactics and education efforts that have greatly reduced impaired driving for distracted driving, it may be possible to reverse the rising trend of distracted driving in communities across the country.

We Can Help

If you, a family member or someone you know has been affected by an accident caused by distracted driving, we can help you.  Call Jan at (864)527-5933 to schedule a free consultation if you or a loved one has been in an accident.  Your quality of life should not be affected by someone who is careless of safety on the roads.  You owe it to yourself to get your life back.

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