For decades, drunk drivers faced a lot of criticism and public outcry. Police officers and organizations did what they could to raise awareness and crack down on infractions. Gradually, the numbers came down. It's still a big risk, but it's not what it once was.
Unfortunately, that does not mean you're safe. You may just face new dangers. Many believe that distracted driving, with the rise of the smartphone, is the new epidemic that will keep taking too many lives.
"Distracted driving has become this generation's drunk driving," said one researcher after a recent study. "In today's culture, the ‘Phone Addict' driver persona has become widespread and extremely dangerous. Because the most distracted drivers aren't aware of their own danger, we encourage everyone to set up their autoresponders so they can keep their eyes off their phone and on the road."
Unfortunately, the statistics and news reports show that drivers do not take this advice to heart. They keep getting distracted, as things like autoresponders are easy to disable and drivers must simply care enough not to take the risk.
Is it getting worse?
In the last few years, people have rallied against distracted driving the way they once did -- and still do -- against drunk driving. Many states enacted laws to prevent it and make it illegal. Local organizations started raising awareness. News reports started drawing attention to the risk.
Instead of getting better, like drunk driving, it seems to just be getting worse. At least, that's the opinion held by some of the industry's leading experts.
"Using the phone while driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the road," noted one researcher and executive director. "Distracted driving has become a full-fledged epidemic. Families are torn apart every day by drivers who are not paying attention to the road because of a phone in their hand. Zendrive's 2019 Distracted Driving Report shows that phone addiction is only getting worse; it's time for everyone to start paying attention to the road. Put those phones away."
You already face a lot of risks when you get on the road: weather conditions, aggressive drivers, road rage, speeding drivers, road conditions and much more. Even simple mistakes by otherwise safe drivers, like running a stop sign, lead to deadly accidents.
Do we really need another risk factor that is so bad it qualifies as an epidemic? All of these distracted driving accidents are 100 percent preventable if people would avoid the distractions in the first place.
As long as they won't, though, accidents will happen. Make sure you know your rights if you get hurt or lose a loved one.