Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: The Triad of Fatality: Speed, Drugs, and Distraction

A recent NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) statistic highlighted a huge rise in the number of fatalities on our roads today. In the past two years deaths are up 14%. That is huge increase, and you would think in this day of modern smart-cars (much like smart phones) with anti-lock breaks, automatic breaking, lane departure warnings, heads up displays, and traction anti-skid/anti-slip control, all wheel drive, symmetrical steering, now I'm just making stuff up, but anyway why?

Why do we have such an increase across the board in road accidents and deaths?

There is a Triple Threat at Work On Our Roads Today of Speed, Distraction, and Drug Use

Driving While Drugged (DWAI drugs) is Not Just Alcohol

First, we have more more driving while on drugs than ever before in 2017. More people are driving while on OTC (over the counter) meds, illegal drugs, and legal (prescription) medications than ever before. Drug use and abuse is common and is accepted. Medical Marijuana is in 25 states, and counting, so having marijuana in your system while driving is ubiquitous in many places. Maybe having THC in the body might help some people drive slower and more carefully but not all. And last  but certainly not least we have the most available, socially acceptable, and pervasive drug in our culture at every rest stop and convenience store, alcohol. How many tip a few in the afternoon and evening and then drive? It's common, acceptable, and part of the culture.

Driving While Distracted Is Not Just the Phones

Second, we are living in the social media age. A literal frenzy of media hits our smart devices all day long. We are the connected generation with facebook, instagram, blogging, video, snapchat, and the list goes on and on. Many of us, myself included wake up and go to bed at night clutching our laptops and our phones. Is it no wonder that the most connected age is also the most distracted. We are distracted from the tasks in front of us a large majority of our lives. We are mentally divided between multiple tasks all the time. I laughed a recent statistic that stated like 90% of people check their phone soon after sex. We can't handle being away from whats going on.

But what's really going on? We are not driving when we are driving. Many of us are eating, drinking, listening, talking, texting, and doing everything except driving our cars.

Driving Too Fast (speeding) is Just Not Unlawful It's Super Dangerous

Lastly, many traffic fatalities come from excessive speed. People are in a rush to get where they want to go. They want the same speed geographically that they experience with their high speed internet devices. They want it now. They don't want to wait. Driving to many is tedious chore. It is not something to be enjoyed or appreciated but a horrible task. So they want to just get it over with. Speed limits are considered suggestions. As you drive downstate from Upstate New York and it's beautiful land you see people speeding up in the bigger cities. It is common to see people treating highways like racetracks. Going at speeds of 90mph or even 100mph is the norm on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes. The main problem with speed is loss of control. You can't control your car or correctly maneuver as well if you are far above the speed limit. Even some small road debris can cause a tire to lose traction and a car to lose control.

So there you have it, thats why we are in the mess we currently are. I don't condone driving at high speed, while on drugs, or distracted driving. All happen, and I think the first step to making things better is an awareness of the problems we are facing.