The Chicago Tribune published a fantastic interview with Jay Winsten, an associate dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, regarding his role in the creation of the designated driver and now his push prevent distracted driving. You can read the entire interview here.
Two things stand out in this interview for me. The first is that Professor Winsten points out that texting and driving continues to grow in this country because it doesn’t have the stigma that drinking and driving does. “There’s absolutely no social stigma connected with distracted driving today—unlike drunk driving, which took years to develop that social stigma. And Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), starting in 1980, had a lot to do with that. But today, you know, if someone asks me at a cocktail party what I’m working on, and I say distracted driving, they’ll laugh and talk about their own behavior and how they’ll have to change because they themselves are a distracted driver. There’s no stigma of any kind associated with it. . .”
The professor is absolutely right. Plus, he points out that not everyone drinks, let alone drinks and drives. On the other hand, almost everyone has a smart phone, young and old, and people have trouble putting them down.
The second point he makes is that anti-texting laws are difficult to enforce, thus people aren’t afraid to pick the phones up when behind the wheel.
So what is his solution? The first is to push for better technology. Technology (maybe an app) that will tract you phone usage while driving. Technology that could possibly limit your phone usage while driving. His other suggestion is a second round of legislation. Legislation with tougher fines and stricter enforcement. I’m going to pat myself on the back here, but this is something I’ve been writing about for at least 5 years. I have said over and over on this blog, that the laws against texting and driving need to have teeth. Legislators need to consider making texting and driving a Class A misdemeanor, which is the same as a first time DUI offense. I don’t necessarily believe all texting and driving offenders should be charged at that level, but at least in situations that result in traffic accidents, or personal injury.
Finally, Professor Winsten is pushing for another awareness campaign, similar to the designated driver ads we saw in the 1980s. With the help of Hollywood, he believes this could be just as effective in curbing distracted driving.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.