Police in Arlington, Texas are cracking down on distracted driving. It isn’t what one may think, however; they are cracking down on their own distracted driving. Police officers are afforded a lot of technology in their vehicles, including radios, cell phones and computers. This can lead to more distractions than the average driver would have, and this technology has in fact led to problems.
The police department has finally updated its driving policy to help prevent distraction-related crashes by officers. The policy had not been updated since the invention of smartphones. The idea is that if the department expects drivers to not drive distracted, then they should have that same expectation for themselves.
There have been at least 18 police officers in Arlington who crashed into cars, fences, poles and curbs in the last three years. One of the distracted driving accidents actually put an officer and another driver in the hospital with minor injuries.
The department will now require officers to undergo eight hours of advanced driver training. The training will have a focus on technology and require officers to use hands-free phones. Officers are also not allowed to type when their vehicle is in motion. All drivers had been prohibited from these activities for about one year now, but public safety officers were exempt.
The department is also looking into technology used in other parts of the country that shuts down the in-car computers and requires officers to pull over in order to input data into their computers. Unfortunately, there is a lack of funding for this technology at the moment.
Thousands of people are killed in distracted driving crashes each year. In 2010, there were 3,092 people killed and 416,000 people injured in distracted-driving-related crashes – all crashes that could have been prevented had the driver been paying attention.
Drivers may not truly understand how serious the effect of simply checking a text message or answering a call can have on their driving abilities. For example, the crash risk associated with text messaging is 23 times that of drivers who are not distracted. This is because drivers are looking away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds to send or receive a text message, and a lot can happen in that short amount of time. A driver driving 55 miles per hour drives about the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds.
People injured by a distracted driver should contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate their case and help them seek recovery for their injuries. Distracted drivers are acting negligently breaking the law – they should be held accountable for their actions.