According to CBS Interactive Inc., an estimated 6,000 people are killed each year by drivers who are distracted by texting and/or making phone calls using their cellular telephones.
Safety advocates are coming together in order to formulate a national organization to fight against the many wrongful deaths.
One victim, Jennifer Smith, was hit by a distracted driver one night while driving in her home city of Oklahoma City with her mother. The driver was talking on his cell phone and unknowingly ran a red light. Smith survived the crash; however, her mother Linda Doyle, 61, was not so lucky.
“We need to just drive,” said Jennifer Smith, Doyle’s daughter. “Why do you need to be doing anything else when you’re driving a deadly weapon?”
This horrible, life-changing experience has prompted Smith to team up with other victim’s families to form FocusDriven. The advocacy group is modeled after the famed support system Mothers Against Drunk Driving or “MADD”.
Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation, feels confident that eventually “being distracted, while driving” will get the kind of attention that drinking and driving has received. After all, in the old days drinking and driving was barely a topic of discussion. Nowadays, after much law enforcement and receiving the proper attention it deserved, the numbers have significantly lowered. “That’s where we want to get with the distracting thing”, LaHood said.
Currently only 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, have put a ban on texting while driving and 6 states, plus DC, have banned the usage of cell phones while operating a vehicle. Ironically, not one state has begun to enforce banning the use of hands-free phones while driving, which after thorough research, has been proven to have the same amount of distraction.
Judy Stone, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, feels that in the near-future technology will come out with a device that will put a lock on the times when you can and cannot use your phone in your car.
For example, a GPS-assisted system will have the ability to detect when you are or aren’t on the road and be able to block all calls to your cell phone when you are driving.
Although, many worry that the technologically savvy world we live in will soon have more gadgets to worry about. The particular gadgets many fear are dashboard computers. Jim Buczkowski, Director of Electrical Systems at Ford Motor Company, the computers would be voice activated so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel. But it’s where driver’s heads would be that worries safety advocates.