Last year, Alabama state data shows that distracted driving was the cause of more than 17,000 crashes and 90 deaths. The Center for Advanced Public Safety at The University of Alabama revealed that in 2015 and 2016 combined, there were 35,000 crashes in which driver distraction was a noted factor. Of those, nearly 170 were fatal.
Electronic devices were a noted factor in 5,400 of those cases, but the actual figure is likely much higher, given that we can track driver distraction in the same way we do drunk driving or speeding. Often, we're left to rely on the confession of the at-fault driver.
Now, a new large study by Zendrive, a traffic analytics firm, reveals Alabama is one of the most dangerous states in the country when it comes to driver distraction. In ranking all 50 states plus D.C., the rank of 51 went to Vermont as being the "most distracted." This was ascertained by looking at the amount of time drivers were on their phones, weighed against the number of minutes they were on the road. Alabama ranked 48th, which is to say it has the fourth-most distracted drivers.
Researchers collected data from more than 3 million drivers over the course or 5.6 billion miles traveled, and discovered that in almost 90 percent of those trips, a driver was using the phone. On average, for every hour behind the wheel, drivers spent 3.5 minutes on their phone. Considering it takes mere seconds for a car accident to unfold, this data is extremely troubling.
It's also concerning because it doesn't stipulate that a single group of drivers were most at-risk. Typically we think of teens and young people as being the real danger when it comes to driver distraction. But here, we find that this is a behavior in which virtually all drivers engage.
Alabama General Law Section 32-5A-350 holds that it is illegal to write, send or read a text-based communication using a wireless communication device to manually communicate with anyone. This can include, but is not limited to, text messages, instant messages or e-mails. It doesn't include reading or entering a telephone number or dialing for the purpose of making a call. This texting ban applies to everyone, but the only all cell phone ban is for drivers 16 or 17 who have only had their intermediate license for six months. The cell phone ban doesn't even apply to school bus drivers.
The main takeaway from the Zendrive study is that this is not merely a problem with millennials. This is an issue that is affecting drivers of all ages and all users of the road in Alabama.
The risk of a car accident in Alabama increases 20-fold when a driver is texting. Given that 95 percent of Americans own smartphones - up dramatically from 35 percent in 2011 - this is not an issue we can afford to ignore.
Victims of distracted drivers may have numerous avenues for compensation of medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. The most important thing is to immediately contact an experienced Mobile injury lawyer to help lay out your options.