What is Causing the Biggest Spike in Auto Accident Deaths in 50 Years?

Want to see who can snap a selfie while driving the fastest? Or chase cartoon characters across Texas? OK, just download an application and put the pedal to the metal.

This is just another reason why there are so many auto and truck collisions here.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has cited drivers using apps as a major factor in the biggest spike in traffic fatalities in a half century.

During the past 50 years, innovations have drastically improved car and roadway safety — thanks in part to the legal crusaders Clarence Ditlow, and Ralph Nader and their Center for Auto Safety that I blogged about yesterday. Seat belts, air bags, improved body design, increased corporate accountability — and yes, lawsuits — drove the steady decline in highway fatalities. Then everything changed.

2015 was previously named the worst year for traffic accidents in five decades. And it looks like 2016 will far outdo even that deadly year, based on the first 6 months. 17,775 people were killed in traffic accidents during the first half of 2016. This number does not include the July 4th, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and the Christmas holiday season, when alcohol related accidents skyrocket.

Texas leads the United States in the number of traffic deaths each year.

Is any one paying attention?

Put the Phone Away

I post about this a lot here: just because we are one of only four states that allow unrestricted texting for almost every driver, don’t drive and use your cell.

Texting is bad enough. Then when we add Facebook, Snapchat, Waze, Tinder, Pokémon Go and hundreds of other apps to the menu, the end result is predictable. Instead of sending a quick message, already incredibly dangerous, drivers are playing games, making videos and snapping selfies. The phone has become not just a communication tool but a toy to millions of bored drivers.

And don’t forget the office crowd calling clients, reading GPS maps, and handling job tasks inappropriate while driving.

Some newer cars include a wifi option so drivers can stay connected even while on the road. Unfortunately, drivers take this concept literally, often acting like they are sitting at their desks rather than barreling down a highway at 65+ mph.

One of the simplest, lowest cost solutions to reducing traffic deaths is banning cell phone use while driving. There is just no way to drive safely while using an electronic device. This is not a matter of personal freedom; this is basic common sense.

I have been representing traffic accident victims for 36 years. So much has changed. When I founded my practice in the River Plaza Tower in 1982, my clients suffered head injuries from hitting the dashboard at high speed. They were disfigured when ejected through the windshield because seat belts were not the norm and glass splintered instead of shattered. They suffered crush injuries because the body of the cars crumpled into the cabin. We have fixed many of these problems.

Now a high percentage of the clients of a personal injury lawyer have been injured by distracted drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, or playing games.

We cannot keep waiting to fix this problem.

A future with ridiculously high numbers of traffic deaths and injuries should not be inevitable.

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