Articles Tagged with laws

You’ve all seen it.  The car swerving ahead of you.  The car drifting into your lane.  The car slamming on brakes at the last minute to avoid the line of stopped traffic.  When you pass by, if you are lucky enough to get by them safely, you see the driver’s head looking straight down at their cell phone actively scrolling their social media or text messages, and ignoring the rest of us on the road.  Not a care in the world except to be intently focused on the latest happenings on social media.

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The most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report that only about 3% of drivers are using cell phone or other electronic devices while driving.  I, for one, do not believe this for a minute.  There is not a day that goes by where I do not see multiple people drifting from their lanes and fully absorbed in their cell phone while driving.  Each day seems to be worse than the previous day.  People are addicted to their Fakebook (you know people are lying about their perfect seeming lives on Facebook, right?) or Instagram accounts.

Cell phone use while driving is dangerous and is considered distracted driving.  Distracted driving accounted for 3166 deaths in 2017 and would appear to be on the rise as we all witness more and more distracted drivers in our daily commutes.  We often perceive distracted driving to be centered around the use of a cell phone while driving, but it can also include eating, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, or fumbling for other control devices on your dashboard.   In 2017, there were also 599 non-occupants killed in distracted driving crashes which are typically unsuspecting pedestrians, bicyclists, and others just minding their own business.

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Chances are that you have encountered driving through a city that has placed red light cameras at intersections.  The stated purpose is to increase safety at intersections by imposing a penalty for those drivers who run red lights.   The penalty fine varies from place to place but is typically $50 or $100 for a violation.  If not paid timely, then the fine amount doubles in most locations.

The Good.  When driving through an intersection, it is nice to know that other drivers may be less likely to run a red light if they fear being fined for that bad driving habit.  We know that 40% of the roughly 6 million car crashes that occur in the United States every year are intersection-related crashes.  Various surveys and data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warn us that intersections can be dangerous places.  If red light cameras cause drivers to be more careful not to enter an intersection on a red light, then that should be a good thing for all of us.

The Bad.  While red light cameras may make drivers more reluctant to enter an intersection on a red light, they can create situations where drivers slam on their brakes to avoid getting a ticket resulting in rear end collisions near these red light camera equipped intersections.  A review of studies on the topic by the Federal Highway Administration supports the conclusion that red light cameras reduce the number of right angle (T-bone) crashes, but also increase the number of rear-end collisions.  As a result of the conflicting safety data, many cities have removed previously placed red light cameras and at least 9 states have banned them altogether from being used.

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