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| Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

We all know that distracted driving is dangerous driving. Using handheld devices to make phone calls and send text messages while behind the wheel has become an epidemic, drawing the attention of significant attention from highway safety agencies and advocacy organizations.

But it sometimes takes a specific incident to really highlight how serious a problem is and focus the public. For instance, 17-year-old Aaron Deveau was recently sentenced to prison for causing a fatal car crash when he crossed the center line and collided with a vehicle driven by 55-year-old Donald Bowley Jr. Just minutes before the accident, Deveau was sending text messages.

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The accident was tragic for everyone. A life was lost, and a teenager’s future significantly altered because of an activity many of us engage in, thinking that the statistics on texting while driving don’t apply to us. More than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents suring 2010, accounting for 10 percent of fatalities on our nation’s roads. Yet, a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration survey showed that at least 75 percent of drivers answer cell phone calls while driving. Using a GPS while driving has proven to be equally dangerous.

Completely preventable crashes due to the use of electronic devices have finally caught the nation’s attention. At the end 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a nationwide ban on portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. Just this month, the NHTSA rolled out a Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving, calling for the adoption of tougher distracted driving laws with stricter enforcement; new technology for reducing distracted driving, changes to driver education curriculum that emphasize the danger of distracted driving and promoting personal responsibility behind the wheel.

As harsh as it might seem to impose prison sentences for texting while driving, doing show is necessary for sending the message that distracted driving is a traffic hazard we all need to take seriously if we want to keep our streets and highways safe.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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