Distracted driving is dangerous to drivers, passengers, and nonoccupants alike. Anything that causes a driver to either take their attention away from driving, take their eyes off the road, or take their hands off the wheel is a distraction. A specific type of driver distraction occurs when a driver diverts their attention from the driving task to focus on their cell phone.
On August 20, 2017, my best friend’s 54-year-old brother, Mike, was killed by a distracted driver. The person who struck Mike was a 16-year-old boy, who only had his license for a few weeks at the time of the crash. The collision apparently occurred because the 16-year-old was busy searching his phone for a song on his playlist, rather than paying attention to the road. The boy lost control of his vehicle which then left the roadway striking Mike as his vehicle was stopped in a parking lot, waiting to exit onto the roadway. Mike was not only a loving husband, son, and brother, but also the father to two teenage daughters. This tragic, but easily avoidable crash, not only took Mike’s life and forever change the lives of Mike’s family, but this momentary distraction has also changed the life of the 16-year-old boy, who now faces charges of reckless homicide.
Pennsylvania has over 120,000 miles of roads and highways. Each year the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation publishes a booklet entitled: “Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics”, which can be found at http://www.dotcrashinfo.pa.gov/. This booklet provides a sobering look at the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes and their resulting injuries and deaths which occur on Pennsylvania’s roadways. The booklet compiles information obtained by PennDOT from traffic crash reports submitted to them by state, county, municipal, and other law enforcement agencies.
In 2017, there were 128,188 reportable traffic crashes in Pennsylvania. Those crashes claimed the lives of 1,137 people and injured another 80,612 people. On Average in Pennsylvania: each day 351 reportable traffic crashes occurred (about 15 crashes every hour); each day three persons were fatally injured in reportable traffic crashes (one fatality every eight hours); each day 221 persons were injured in reportable crashes (about nine injuries every hour). Based on Pennsylvania’s 2017 population (12,805,537 people): 1 out of every 44 people was involved in a reportable traffic crash. 1 out of every 11,263 people was fatally injured in a reportable traffic crash. 1 out of every 159 people was injured in a reportable traffic crash.
In 2017, the number one contributing factor for both the number of crashes, as well as fatal crashes, was excessive speed. Distracted driving was the second most prevalent contributing factor accounting for 15,614 crashes. That number exceeded alcohol-related crashes by 6,471 crashes. Alcohol-related accidents accounted for 9,143 crashes.
Just as technology has created the opportunity and environment for this increase in distracted driving, technology might also be the solution to prevent distracted driving attributable to cell phone usage. One such product is called “Cellcontrol”. This product contains proprietary software that blocks cell phone apps, texts, and calls while a driver is operating a vehicle. Cellcontrol's patented distracted driving solution consists of two main components, a hardware device in the vehicle called DriveID and an app on the phone(s) or other mobile device(s). Once the Cellcontrol DriveProtect™ app is loaded on the phone, you install the DriveID hardware in the vehicle simply by attaching the DriveID hardware to the windshield of the vehicle, using Velcro, with the USB port pointed toward the dashboard.
This blog is not meant as an endorsement of “Cellcontrol” or any other company which may have similar technology but rather identifies and discusses the “Cellcontrol” device to make readers aware that such technology exists to try to combat the growing problem of distracted driving.
I urge all of you to talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about the dangers of distracted driving. By making others aware of the dangers of distracted driving, you and your loved ones can hopefully avoid the pain that Mike’s family continues to live with every day.