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Letter: Let’s not encourage distracted driving

Let’s not encourage distracted driving

Distracted drivers are the leading cause of car accidents in the United States today. According to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 80 percent of automobile accidents involve at least some form of driver distraction within three seconds of the crash or near-miss. As a result, police everywhere have begun aggressively ticketing people who engage in distracted driving and endanger other drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Unfortunately, car manufacturers are making it easier for distracted driving to occur by providing consumers with in-car Wi-Fi, touch-screen dashboard displays and even Facebook and email connectivity. New cars these days act like smartphones on wheels. Car manufacturers say customers are demanding these features, driven by the popularity of touch-screen smartphones and tablets. Drivers can now use voice commands to operate their devices, listen to text messages being automatically read aloud and connect to smartphone applications. Distracted driving already kills nine Americans per day, and injures more than 1,000.

Alarmingly, these new features are essentially unregulated by the federal government, and discouragingly, it appears that consumers’ dependence on and desire for Internet and social media connectivity will continue to trump glaring public safety concerns. As a result, it is clear that new legislation is needed to correct the matter.

Peter Veech