Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
For a number of years, I have blogged and made presentations to teens and
their parents about the life-threatening dangers of distracted driving
because I believe it is a serious issue that confronts drivers every day
they get behind the wheel. According to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,000 deaths last year were linked to distracted driving accidents. A
new study commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and conducted by University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer
confirms what we have come to realize: distracted driving is incredibly
dangerous. In addition, authors of the new study include a new warning:
"Just because a new technology does not take the eyes off the road
does not make it safe to be used while the vehicle is in motion."
This new study measured participants’ reaction time in three different
experiments while doing each of the following activities:
- "listening to the radio,
- listening to a book on tape,
- talking with a passenger seated next to them,
- talking on a cell phone both holding the device and hands free,
- using speech to text hands free,
- performing a math and memorization task."
Cognitive reaction was measured first while not driving, then while in
a simulator, and then behind the wheel. Results indicated that even with
hands-free technology, drivers were far more distracted than drivers who
did not use cell phones.
"There are in-vehicle activities, such as using a speech-to-text system
to send text or e-mail messages, which produced a relatively high level
of cognitive distraction." As more states ban holding cell phones
while driving, automakers have begun including hands-free devices for
AAA believes these in-car communication devices will actually lead to more
distracted driving and requests that automakers slow the development of
such systems. According to AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet,
"It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous
mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common public
misperception that hands-free means risk-free." Professor Strayer’s
research will hopefully get the attention of automakers and become a factor
in making the voice-recognition systems safer and encourage drivers to
use the devices judiciously.
As I have previously stated and continue to believe, while it may be convenient
to convince yourself that multi-tasking is not so difficult, driving should
never be mixed with any other activity. Too many unpredictable things
can happen when driving while distracted. Why complicate an already-challenging
task by adding an unnecessary layer of risk with ostensibly fatal consequences?
Every year I give presentations to area schools about distracted driving
in an effort to teach young people the importance of driving carefully
and to empower them to be sure they do not allow others to drive while
distracted, at least not while they are in the car.
If you, your child’s PTSA, or your child’s school would like
to know more about my presentation, please let me know. I of course do
not charge a fee for it, as it is part of my volunteer community service program.
Do you have any questions about this post?
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial
Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan
Washington, D.C. The association recently named him "Trial Lawyer
of the Year" (2011). He has been rated by
Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also
describes him as
"one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident
claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and
work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against
truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority,
and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest
settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri
has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by
Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by
Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the
top lawyers in America.
If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email
Mr. Zambri at
email@example.com or call him at 202-822-1899.