If there is one thing as common as the use of cell phones, it’s concerns about the safety of cell phones. We worry about the safety of our information on cell phones -- as they may get “smarter”, so do their hackers. Scientists even disagree about their effect on our health – maybe they cause cancer, maybe they don’t. But one thing we know for sure: cell phone use does and has led to an increase in traffic accidents and fatalities. This is why more and more states have enacted laws regarding cell use while operating a vehicle. Today, most are aware not only of the physical risks, but that we risk tickets, fines, and even jail time. There is little doubt that such a driver can also be held liable for any damages and injuries they cause. But in a recent surprising lawsuit, the question was raised, “Can the person on the other end of the line be held equally liable?”
If you stop to think of the many ways we have to communicate with others, it can be staggering to realize how much this ability has grown over just a few decades. Not so long ago, tiny, pocket-size communication devices were literally a thing of science fiction. Today, a person who doesn’t have a cell phone is considered unusual. Those who once had to wait days or weeks to receive news of loved ones, now just log on to a social media site or blog. Why wait in line to talk to a representative at your bank when you can chat with them online instantly from your couch? And yet, it almost feels like the more ways we have to connect, the less communicating we actually do. Or perhaps it’s simply that with so many ways to easily reach out to others, someone’s failure to do so becomes even more apparent and frustrating.
In one second, eleven lives were lost. That’s how long records show a call made by driver Kenneth Laymon lasted before he crashed his semi-truck into a van carrying a group of twelve Mennonite family and friends to a wedding in Iowa. The accident, which occurred on March 26, 2010 in Munfordville, KY, killed the driver of the truck. Of the van’s occupants, ten were killed, with two small children the only survivors. The tragedy resulted in an extensive investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and inspired the strictest recommendation on trucking and cell phone use that the agency has made to date.
In an attempt to put a human face on the growing problem of distracted driving, the United States Department of Transportation recently introduced a safety campaign titled “Faces of Distracted Driving”. The campaign features the stories of distracted driving victims in a series of web-based, video-taped family interviews. By showcasing these stories, the DOT hopes to educate drivers on the real-life impact of distracted driving on everyday people who, like most of us, never thought it would happen to them.
One of the most nerve-wracking moments of any parent’s life is the first time you turn the car keys over to your newly licensed teen. Whether we are too aware of the dangers of driving, or remember our own mistakes as a teen driver, it’s almost impossible to feel completely comfortable watching our teen drive away. While we can’t protect them completely, in addition to teaching them driving laws, there are a few rules parents can put in place to help teenage drivers stay safe.