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Distracted Driving is Downright Dangerous

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Yes, distracted driving is downright dangerous, not to mention deadly.  But let’s do mention that.  Let’s look at one of the most heart wrenching cases that has ever come my way in two decades of practicing personal injury law.

Imagine a six-year old boy, Brandon Abrams, standing on the corner holding his bike in a suburban San Antonio neighborhood, waiting for an ice cream truck.  A 17-year old speeding down the street, drops his cell phone, reaches down without stopping to pick it up, jumps the curb, hits the boy and kills him.

A little kid on a sidewalk in a suburban neighborhood waiting on an ice cream truck in the afternoon is classic Americana.  It’s a 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” TV show moment.  The boy’s killer might as well be from Mars.  Yet there he was, the classic picture of Americana today:  a teenager distracted by a cell phone, driving a car that witnesses say knocked a six-year old boy’s body into the air, killing him.

Could we ever have imagined that 21st Century technology would so easily turn teens into accidental killers?  A CDC study, the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, found that “nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older” admitted to texting or emailing while driving.

In 2012, the year before Bandon Abrams was killed, 3,328 people in the United States died in crashes involving a distracted driver.  Another 421,000 were injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  CDC statistics show that 69% of U.S. drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 reported talking on cell phones while driving in 2012.

Safety experts are calling distracted driving a national epidemic.  A number of states and U.S. territories have done something about it.

According to The Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 14 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit drivers from using hand-held devices while driving.  Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by novice drivers.  And 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.

Texas has an opportunity to join them.  House Bill 80 and Senate Bill 25, now under consideration by the Texas legislature, would ban texting while driving in Texas.  Brandon’s grandfather, Steven Abrams, is determined to see the bills become law.  He is visiting lawmakers in Austin and will testify before the State Transportation Committee urging their passage.

According to TxDOT, the Texas Department of Transportation, 40 Texas cities already have bans against texting while driving.  If Texas is for life, it should enact a statewide ban against texting while driving so its people can be protected from this epidemic.

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