It’s Distracted Driving Month,

Do You Know All The Facts?

This month is distracted driving month and I wanted to share this article I wrote in the Naples Daily News with you.

Technology changes quickly on many levels. Over thirteen years ago, a cellular phone was not a commonly owned device; not everyone was driving while talking on the phone. Today, Blackberry e-mails, smart phone Internet searches, cellular phone calls and text messaging while driving combine to make crashes more likely.

If victims of a collision are lucky enough to escape death, many can expect life-long injuries. The injuries often prevent them from working, and most accident victims will have medical bills and require ongoing care and treatment.

The reality is that it is not safe practice to drive distracted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supports this. Distracted Driving Month is held every April by the NHTSA to raise awareness of distracted driving.The administration’s research has shown that driving while using a cellular phone can pose a serious cognitive distraction and degrade driver performance. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driving, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.

The primary cause of driver inattention is distracting activities, and the most common distraction is a cell phone. Unless we take responsibility for our safety and well-being (making the decision to not talk on our phones while driving), we are putting our lives and the lives of others at risk on a daily basis.

Some states banned the use of cellular phones while operating a motor vehicle in an effort to decrease the amount of crashes and traffic-related fatalities. 10 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving, according NHTSA. Florida was not among them.

Do we need a law preventing us from using cellular devices in our vehicles? Maybe not, if we use a little bit of restraint and good judgment. It is time to recognize the risk we take for ourselves, our children and others when we ignore the fact that distracted driving does increase the chances of an automobile crash. We need to take responsibility for our actions and not force the government to do it for us.

Talk to your teen and 20-something drivers about staying focused while behind the wheel (after we examine our own behaviors as adults). In a study done by Pew Interent & American Life Project, 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.

Make a commitment to yourself and your family to use cellular phones in a safe manner. It still remains an individual decision to continue to use cellular phones while driving. Wouldn’t we prefer to make the choice ourselves, instead of having the state decide for us? Will you make the decision to risk your life, those traveling with you and those around you?

Anything you do personally to avoid becoming a victim of a car accident will be worth it. Avoid distracted driving and invest in your safety.

Joseph J. Bernardo of Bernardo Injury Law is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney with over 25 years of local experience throughout Florida. To learn more about distracted driving month, Contact Joe at or (239) 332-3000.

Photo Credit:

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /