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Distracted Driving: Making Our Roadways Less Safe Everyday

distracted drivingAccording to an article on distracted driving by the American Rental Association, “When you look at the statistics, it’s a wonder anyone voluntarily gets behind the wheel; it’s mayhem on the roads and driving is becoming more dangerous on a daily basis. Consider, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): From 2014 to 2015, vehicle accidents resulting in fatalities rose by more than seven percent, the biggest increase in almost 50 years. Over that same time frame, the number of injuries from motor vehicle crashes jumped up by nearly five percent.”

The article continued, “During that same period, the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by nearly four percent; the largest increase since 1992. The fatality rate per 100 million VMT increased by the same. Fatal accidents caused by distracted driving rose by almost nine percent. In 2015, there were over four percent more fatalities involving crashes with large trucks — any medium or heavy truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 lbs., excluding motor homes and buses — than in 2014.”

The article concluded, “It gets more troubling. Again, according to NHTSA data, during the first six months of 2016, highway deaths rose by more than 10 percent to 17,775, compared to the same period in 2015. Data indicates that rather than vehicle/equipment failure, drivers — particularly distracted drivers — were the primary factor behind these fatalities.”

What is Distracted Driving?

So what exactly is distracted driving? According to Distraction.gov, distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

New Hampshire’s “Hands-Free” Law

Distracted driving has now been categorized as a national epidemic. In an effort to address distracted driving and make roads safer in New Hampshire, lawmakers took action by making handheld cell phone use and texting while driving  a violation of state law. New Hampshire law enforcement officials are authorized to stop drivers who have been observed texting or using a cell phone while driving, even if the driver is not committing any other offenses. This is what is known as a “primary offense.”

New Hampshire’s “Hands-Free” law went into effect in 2015, prohibiting the use of any hand-held device while driving. New vehicles are manufactured with Bluetooth capability, allowing for hands-free and voice-activated connections to electronic devices. For those drivers with older vehicles without this technology, an update is necessary to enable hands-free capability. Research has shown that older drivers who commit violations of the law do so while using a device to make and receive phone calls, while younger drivers are far more likely to be texting.

At the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, we have seen an increase in the number of cases we handle that are the result of injuries caused by distracted drivers. We must ALL develop strategies and the discipline necessary to eliminate distractions while driving to ensure our own safety as well of the safety of all others on our roadways.

Distracted Driving Presentations in Schools

At Manning & Zimmerman Law, we are committed to helping to reduce the number of distracted driving crashes on New Hampshire roadways. Attorneys Maureen Raiche Manning and Anna Goulet Zimmerman, who combined have more than 50 years of experience in the practice of law, have volunteered their services to provide distracted driving presentations at local high schools. This is being done as part of a state-wide initiative being organized by the New Hampshire Association for Justice, an organization of trial lawyers of which Attorney Zimmerman is the current president and Attorney Manning is a past-president. More information on the program provided to schools is available at EndDD.org or, if your school would like a presentation, please contact Attorney Zimmerman at our office.

Contact the NH Personal Injury Lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, contact the New Hampshire personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC.  Big insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their interests and you should too. There are no up-front costs for our services. All personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning that we are only paid for our services if we successfully recover damages from the responsible party. For a free consultation, call (603) 239-2315, email us at info@manningzimmermanlaw.com, or contact us by using the “contact us” form or chat feature on our website.

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