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Congress takes a look at distracted driving

Distracted driving has been an issue since the invention of the automobile and has increased upon the creation of suitcase-sized car phones installed into vehicles. Over time, the devices grew smaller and added more cutting-edge technology that included navigation apps and other amenities. That created more “opportunities” for drivers to take their eyes off the road, causing severe and sometimes deadly car accidents.

Deadly dangers on roads nationwide

Based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight people in the United States die in crashes caused by distracted operation of vehicles every day. Annually, that number adds up to approximately 3,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries.

Those working in close proximity to highway and freeway traffic have never faced more significant dangers. Work-related crashes have skyrocketed during the pandemic. The number of pedestrians killed has increased in more than half of the states during the first six months of 2020, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. All of this is occurring with fewer cars on the road.

Legislation may be the answer

Members of Congress have decided to take action, introducing a bill that could reduce crashes caused by distracted drivers, with specific provisions covering accidents that lead to the deaths of first responders. If enacted, the Protecting First Roadside First Responders Act would mandate for new vehicles:

  • Installation of crash avoidance safety technologies to counter distracted driving
  • Funding for states to incorporate digital alert technology to provide warnings of lane departures on navigation apps to move over on the road
  • Emergency braking systems to prevent dangerous and potentially deadly collisions

While the technology currently exists and is available from auto manufacturers, most are considered upgrades that add to the cost of vehicles.

Part of the bill also provides an educational element, specifically grants for public information campaigns to increase awareness of move-over laws that exist in every state where drivers who pass emergency vehicles are required to slow down or change lanes.