A study conducted by Ohio State University researchers showed, among other things, that 33 percent of people do not put down their cell phones before crossing a busy street. Overall, the study concluded that pedestrians suffer even more injuries due to distraction than drivers. The data analyzed in the study came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and included all cell phone related emergency room visits for bikers, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers from 2004 to 2010. The distraction caused by cell phones has led to substantial legislation all across the nation aimed at combating the problem of distracted driving. Distracted walking may be an even greater problem.
Legislation designed to ban the use of handheld devices has the potential to reduce distracted driving incidents. Critics contend that it also has the potential to encourage the use of hands-free devices, which may be even more distracting than their handheld counterparts leading to additional car and truck accidents. A recent study conducted by AAA found that voice activated devices, including those increasingly used in dashboard technology, are a greater distraction than conducting a phone call on a handheld device. The Illinois House and Senate have passed a measure to ban the use of handheld devices. It is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Quinn.
When a person agrees to be a designated driver, what are they agreeing to? Are they agreeing to refrain from drinking in order to provide a safe ride home? Are they agreeing to refrain from getting drunk? Are they agreeing to arrange for a safe ride home for the people who are drinking? The understanding of what a designated driver is and what he or she is supposed to do may not be as clear as some believe. A study appearing in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs concluded that a surprising number of designated drivers may be consuming alcohol before driving home. The result could be a deadly car accident.
During the 1970s, many states lowered the legal drinking age from 21 to 18. In 1984, the federal government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act which required states to make 21 the legal purchasing age or risk losing millions of dollars in federal highway funding. Needless to say, all 50 states and the District of Columbia complied with that demand relatively quickly. Drunk driving accidents were considered a major problem and the federal government felt compelled to try to reduce them. In many ways, distracted driving has taken the place of drunk driving as the major safety concern on American roads. The federal government is once again turning to a financial incentive to resolve the problem.
Allergies are a common problem during warmer months. Pollen, ragweed and other allergens fill the air during allergy season. The use of many allergy medications can lead to drowsiness. This raises the problem of drowsy driving if a person takes allergy medication and gets behind the wheel. The Food and Drug Administration has released a reminder to people who take antihistamines that they need to be careful to avoid the potential for drowsy driving.