Distracted driving has increased, according to new data

Distracted driving epidemic
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - One of the leaders of the National Transportation Safety Board is calling distracted driving an epidemic, with deadly crashes up 22 percent last year.

There have been eight such accidents in Jefferson County alone in the past few days.

We’ve all been guilty of taking our eyes off the road to answer the phone or reply to a text. But every time you do that, experts say you’re risking your own life and the lives of others on the road.

This is the second year in a row federal data shows an increase in deadly crashes.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says more than 3,000 people died in 2020 from distracted driving, and nearly 324,000 were hurt.

UAB driving expert, Despina Stavrinos, said distractions can include anything from cell phone use to pets in the car.

“Many cell phone carriers now have drive safe modes, so look into setting your settings in that way so it will remove the temptation for you,” Starvinos said. “For pets, you know you can restrain them, so we recommend you doing that and passengers, passengers are more distracting than cell phones for teens so very important to limit the number of passengers.”

Several hit-and-runs have happened in the last week in Birmingham, many of them involving pedestrians. Those cases are still under investigation.

“It’s really frightening thinking about a situation where you have a distracted pedestrian and a distracted driver approaching the intersection and that’s where the interaction of those things can be potentially fatal,” Starvinos said.

Birmingham Police Department said it’s just as dangerous to be a distracted pedestrian. They advise pedestrians to keep an eye on oncoming traffic and never assume drivers can see you.

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