Distracted driving consequences on medical directive and estate planning

As much as cell phones have become an irreplaceable part of our everyday lives, they can become deadly when used at the wrong time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3154 people were killed and a further 424,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers during 2013 equating to 9 people dying on the roads of the USA every day due to distracting driving.

An increase in car-crash injuries and fatalities among young drivers are making it increasingly important for even younger, healthy individuals to take the time to address somewhat harrowing, yet vitally important considerations such as medical directives and estate planning. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, often leaving you unable to communicate your end-of-life care values and preferences, necessitating the need for planning in advance.  

More and more lawmakers are recognizing the gravity of distracted driving and as of July 2004, it has become illegal for drivers to operate mobile phones and other electronic devices while driving in DC, unless said devices are equipped with a hands-free accessory. The sole purpose of the Distracted Driving Safety Act of 2004 is to improve and uphold road safety in DC by limiting the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers. Distracted drivers lose vital seconds of response time which can potentially cause serious accidents which could have been avoided otherwise.

Consequences of distracted driving

Distracted driving can result in a number of grave outcomes which can have a lifelong negative effect on the lives of all parties concerned. These consequences include, but aren’t limited to:

Motor vehicle accidents

According to data released by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) an estimated 11,508 car accidents were caused by distracted drivers during 2017.  The National Safety Council reported that 1 in 4 car accidents on US roads is caused by texting while driving, once again highlighting the critical dangers associated with distracted driving. Taking your eyes off the road for as little as 2 seconds at a time can severely hinder your concentration, amplifying your chances to cause or be involved in an accident.

Legal implications

While distracted driving is outlawed in DC, no law is effective when ignored. Washington State Law makes is completely illegal to hold an electronic device while driving, even when stopped in traffic or at an intersection. The same law also prohibits eating and applying makeup while driving.  Fines for distracted driving in the State start at $136 for a 1st offense and $234 for the 2nd. All offenses will also be reported to the driver’s insurance company and will appear on the driver’s permanent record. If the distracted driver is involved in an accident he/she will also face more serious criminal charges, especially if someone was severely injured or killed.

The only way to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving is to not engage in distracted driving to start with. Do not ever compromise on your own safety and that of other road users. Get rid of all distractions while driving and focus all your attention on the road and your immediate surroundings. No text message or phone call is worth a life. Do the right thing and switch off, buckle-up and arrive at your destination safely.

By Jennifer McCoy

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