While police crackdown on offense, study shows many still text and drive

April was Distracted Driving Month, during which law enforcement agencies across Connecticut and the United States participated in a campaign to raise awareness about distracted driving and to crack down on distracted motorists. However, according to the Hartford Courant, many drivers in Connecticut are still failing to get the message given a recent study showing that close to 10 percent of drivers in the state are distracted everyday. Given that distracted driving has been identified as one of the leading causes of car accidents, police and safety advocates say drivers need to be aware of the dangers and remain focused on the road.

Millions of distracted driving instances

The study by Preusser Research Group was carried out for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Observers recorded instances of people talking or texting on cellphones at a number of locations throughout the state and used that information to conclude that an average of 9.6 percent of drivers are texting and talking every moment in Connecticut. That figure equals over 11 million instances of distracted driving everyday. The study's authors also note that because the study did not include the Interstate system that the actual figure is likely much higher.

Connecticut actually has one of the toughest distracted driving laws in the country, which has helped the state in obtaining federal funding for cracking down on the offense. Texting and driving, for example, will net first-time offenders a $150 fine, while second offenses incur a $300 fine and all subsequent offenses a $500 fine. Federal grants have helped dozens of police departments across the state focus on distracted driving enforcement efforts during April, although it remains to be seen what impact those efforts have had on the overall rate of distracted driving.

Hands-free distractions

While safety experts and law enforcement often focus on cellphone use when talking about distracted driving, as the Hartford Courant notes, there are plenty of other forms of distracted driving that can be just as deadly.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation, for example, found that many voice-activated in-car systems can be just as distracting as trying to work out complicated math problems while driving. While such systems may not require drivers to take their hands off the wheel, they still often require such mental focus that the drivers become unaware of their surroundings. Although hands-free devices are currently legal while driving, safety experts are beginning to warn drivers to only engage with such devices after pulling their vehicles off the road.

Distracted driving accidents

Anybody who has been hurt in a crash that may have been caused by a distracted driver should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can be a vital source of assistance and guidance following an accident and may be able to help accident victims in pursuing compensation for their injuries.