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CDC: distracted driving injures thousands and kills each day

New CDC data indicates the grisly effects that distracted driving has each day.

The modern world has brought many pressures on its inhabitants that were unknown to our ancestors. Among them is the perceived need to stay connected 24/7. As a result, it is a ubiquitous sight on Kentucky roads to see drivers using cellphones to talk or text while they are attempting to drive, swerving in and outside of their lanes, narrowly avoiding a car accident.

Although federal and state governments have attempted to educate the public on the hazards that distracted driving causes others on the nation's streets and roads, it seems that many people are unwilling to heed the warning. As a result, the problem has festered to the point that nine people each day are killed by distracted driving, according to the latest crash data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, drivers glued to their cellphones (or are otherwise distracted) also injure 1,060 bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, passengers and motorcyclists each 24 hours.

Unfortunately, the CDC statistics also indicate that the problem is worsening, not improving. The 2011 crash data, the most recent year available, indicated that 3,331 persons were killed in collisions caused by distracted driving, representing a two percent increase over the prior year.

Perhaps what is the most shocking aspect of the data is that the CDC concedes that the reported number of deaths and injuries is likely too low. The statistics are derived from statements in police reports. Since many drivers want to avoid admitting negligence, many fail to mention that they were on a cellphone or doing something else that took their eyes off the road when the accident occurred. Because of this fact, distracted driving likely causes more accidents, deaths and injuries than the data would suggest.

Kentucky's response to the threat

Noticing the connection between the use of cellphones and an increase in accidents, many states have attempted to raise public awareness of the issue by passing legislation banning or restricting cellphone use behind the wheel. Kentucky is among such states, as its law prohibits all drivers from sending, reading or typing text messages while operating a motor vehicle.

However, aside from bus drivers and young drivers, talking on a cellphone remains legal in the state. This is unfortunate, since a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that engaging in manual-visual tasks while driving, such as dialing a number on a cellphone, increases the likelihood of an accident by threefold.

Since talking on a cellphone while driving is legal, you may think that if such a driver injures you that you have no legal recourse. This is simply not the case. Under Kentucky law, drivers must operate their vehicles in a manner that does not put others to an unreasonable risk of injury. If the driver responsible for the accident was distracted because of a cellphone conversation or he or she was texting, this fact may be used to establish negligence.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a distracted driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can consider the circumstances of the accident and fully advise you on your right to claim damages under the law.

Keywords: car accidents, distracting driving

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