Distracted driving: Is education the answer?

A couple of weeks ago in this Boston Personal Injury Law Blog, we wrote that more drivers are using cellphones behind the wheel than ever before. Despite the undisputed fact that distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, and laws ban many forms of distracted driving, a great number of motorists insist on focusing on their phones instead of on the roads.

Lawmakers have stumbled in addressing this significant public safety issue. In some states, they have tried to tackle distracted driving by outlawing texting and banning handheld devices, but such restrictions have been notoriously difficult to enforce. Now, one university thinks that educating the populace on the risks of distracted driving may be the best way to get drivers to change their habits.

Of course, motorists are already educated to a certain degree. It is hard to avoid the headlines about fatal car accidents that are caused by cellphone use, or to ignore the statistics that suggest distracted driving is as dangerous or more dangerous than drunk driving.

A state university on the west coast, however, thinks that a well-rounded, structured education on distracted driving might help change our culture’s tendencies toward distractions in vehicles. In January, the university is going to begin offering free one-hour courses on the worksites of various local businesses. During the class, drivers will be provided with a comprehensive overview of distracted driving law, research and car accidents.

The initiative is part of a larger effort between the university and the state patrol called Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety. Part of the goal of that program, and of the distracted driving courses, is to shift the cultural norms of distracted driving.

The approach is an interesting one, and if it is successful, hopefully similar courses will be offered here in Boston. In the meantime, anyone who is injured in an accident with a distracted driver should seek legal counsel.

Source: Utsandiego.com, “Class aims to refocus distracted drivers,” Chris Nicols, Dec. 4, 2013