Want to be a Distracted Driver? There’s an App for That.

March 10th, 2017 by Attorney Julie Butcher

Traffic fatalities have gone up, which is a change from past years of steady declines. Traffic safety experts are trying to find the cause, and it may be as close as their smartphones. One theory for the cause of the increased carnage is that large numbers of drivers are distracted by smartphones and their apps. Smartphone apps can help give you directions to where you want to go and even help you order a pizza on the way home from work, but this convenience comes at a cost: using them could distract you while driving on a Kentucky road and cause an accident.

Over the last forty years, there were steady declines in highway fatalities across the country. Then, in 2015, there was the largest annual percentage increase in fifty years; and for the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4%, to 17,775, compared to the same time in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reports the New York Times.

It wasn’t that long ago that the greatest fear concerning distracted drivers was texting or talking on the phone while driving. While that’s still a huge issue, drivers distracted by apps are closing in fast. Now there are new technologies, including those built into cars, that make it easier for drivers to use apps.

Social media app Snapchat has gotten attention in some high-profile accidents which resulted in deaths and serious injuries.

  • A crash near Tampa killed five people in October. A teenaged passenger in one of the cars involved recorded a Snapchat video showing her vehicle was traveling at 115 mph just before the collision.
  • A lawsuit filed in a Georgia court alleges a teenage driver involved in a September 2015 crash outside Atlanta was using Snapchat while driving more than 100 mph. That car hit another car and the accident seriously injured the other driver.

Most new vehicles being sold today have software that allows the vehicle to connect to a smartphone so occupants can make phone calls, dictate texts and use apps hands-free. The auto industry claims this will make vehicles safer because drivers can keep their eyes on the road and focus on driving while interacting with their smartphones.

The technology may have the opposite effect, however; drivers may become more distracted because using apps is easier, encouraging their use. Freeing drivers’ hands and keeping their eyes on the road doesn’t mean their brains will be focused on driving. The National Safety Council states that using voice-to-text technology is actually more distracting for drivers than if they type the text by hand.

The insurance industry keeps close track of auto accident statistics, and it’s convinced the increasing use of electronic devices while driving is the biggest cause of the increasing number of fatalities, according to Robert Gordon, a senior vice president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

If you or a family member has been injured in a collision in Kentucky, you can rely on the Julie Butcher Law Office, which has extensive experience handling the claims of those injured in all types of vehicle accidents. Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of your case and how we might help your family obtain compensation for your injuries.