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Consensus sought on solution to distracted driving problem

Cellphones and other mobile devices have changed the way Americans communicate and are able to access information. While there are many positives associated with cellphones, there are also many negatives, including the role of cellphone and mobile technology in contributing to car accidents involving distracted driving.

In March 2012, a car driven by a 16-year-old driver struck and killed a New Canaan man who was jogging. The man was only 44-years-old. In April of 2011, a 74-year-old Bridgeport woman was hit and killed by a 42-year-old driver who was distracted and talking on his cellphone. Tragic accidents such as these and thousands more that occur around the country, signal that something needs to be done to curb distracted driving.

A recent summit organized by Sen. Jay Rockefeller called upon parties from key industries including automakers, cellphone providers, technology firms and the government to come together. The summit's agenda centers on finding solutions to help reduce distracted driving which is rapidly growing and 100 percent preventable. During 2012 alone, distracted driving was attributed to causing some 3,328 fatalities.

Most states now have laws against texting while driving and some, including Connecticut, against using a handheld device while driving. In fact, Connecticut has some of the strictest anti-texting and cellphone laws and drivers caught violating these laws are subject to fines ranging from $150 to $500.

No phone call or text message should be made or answered at the cost of an individual's physical health or life. Numerous technology and cellphone providers have or are planning to release apps and devices that would disable or limit a driver's ability to receive and answer text messages and calls. The jury, however, is still out on the effectiveness of such technologies.

Many safety experts recommend that drivers simply turn off and stow mobile devices while driving. Drivers, passengers or pedestrians who have suffered injuries as a result of a driver who was distracted, may choose to take legal action. By filing a personal injury lawsuit, injured individuals may be able to recover compensation related to injuries, medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: Conneticuit Post, "Summit seeks to curb distracted driving," Stewart M. Powell, Feb. 4, 2014

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