For decades the biggest risk to drivers was sharing the road with people operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Society eventually recognized how dangerous this behavior could be, but only after hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries and millions of dollars in damages. Fatigued driving was a distant second place in terms of dangerous behaviors to contend with.
The advent of cell phones has changed the paradigm. As distracted driving continues to become more and more common, more and more people are being injured and killed by drivers paying more attention to their text messages and social media than to the road. Drunk driving was ultimately curtailed by strict enforcement of laws and the development of new methods of catching drunk drivers, such as mandatory checkpoints, roadside sobriety tests, and breathalyzers. Now, Australia is set to pioneer a new method to deal with texting while driving.
Cameras have long been used to enforce traffic laws, including stop sign running, drivers ignoring red lights, and –in conjunction with radar- speeding. Australia, as part of a safe driving initiative, intends to use cameras to enforce laws against using cell phone use while driving. These cameras have already been tested in Melbourne and were very successful, catching hundreds of drivers with cell phones in hand when they were supposed to be focused on the road.
If this technology proves successful overseas, Americans could push for similar initiatives here. Until then, the legal system is the only avenue for those injured by distracted drivers. If you or someone you love has been injured by a distracted driver, please consult with an experienced attorney about holding the driver responsible for their actions. Until we hold people responsible for texting while driving, the behavior will continue.