More than 1,400 crashes in 2009 linked to distracted driving in Alabama

A bill to ban texting while driving died earlier this year in the Alabama Senate.  After seeing the numbers compiled by the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety, you wonder why. 

Since June 2009, at least 1,466 car crashes were caused by a distracted driver.  While the number may seem low compared to the 88,741 crashes reported statewide by the Alabama Department of Public Safety, there may have been more crashed than the 1,466 compiled. 

All crashes caused by a driving distraction must be recorded in an electronic crash report system named eCrash.   But as Josh Carples – spokesman for the Center for Advanced Public Safety – explained, not all law enforcement agencies are using the system.  “It’s such a new program that the data is very limited,” he said.

For the Traffic Safety Program Manager Bill Whatley, this should be a signal for Alabama lawmakers that something needs to be done to put a stop on distracted driving.

“Although the available data is limited, there are many examples of vehicle crashes where distracted driving was a factor.  We urge Alabama drivers to recognize that anything that distracts you from driving your vehicle is reckless behavior that endangers us all.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health is at least taking on the issue.  A new campaign was launched to educate young drivers on the risks of distracted driving.  But as said by UAB Transportation Center researcher Despina Stavrinos, public education will not be as effective until a new state law is passed.

“It’s about bringing a change in the social norms and changing that mind-set,” she said.

Source: Alabama Live, August 8, 2010

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