Parker County Today April 2016 - Page 13

Puls + Haney Principal Warns About Texting and Driving; Notes this is a Primary Reason for Accidents By Kelly Puls, Attorney-at-Law, Puls + Haney Board Certified in Personal Injury and Civil Trial Law text message distracts a driver for about five seconds; at highway speeds, that represents a distance of about 300 feet in which the car is essentially out of control. In a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 90 percent of drivers recognize the danger from cell phone distractions and find it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send e-mail while driving. Nevertheless, 35 percent of these same people admit to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in past weeks. Similarly, two-thirds of the respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone, even though 88 percent found it a safety threat. PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY For years now, drivers who have hit another vehicle have thought they could get away with hiding their cell phone under their seat. They thought they could deny that they were using their phone when the accident occurred. This is no longer the case. My law firm routinely accesses driver’s cell phone records, an analysis which can ultimately prove the innocence of our clients who have been seriously injured by another person not being responsible. Simply put, at Puls Haney, we take texting and driving seriously. Our trial law section understands that bad things happen to good people. We strive to be leaders in corrective justice. Puls + Haney is now Puls Haney Kaiser PLLC; the new firm’s website is coming soon. APRIL 2016 It’s 9 a.m. and you’re driving southbound on I-45, when suddenly the 18-wheeler next to you drifts into your lane and strikes the front of your car. You are slammed headfirst into th e median. Your airbags burst in your face and across your chest, and your body feels like you are on fire. This happens almost daily on Texas highways. The cause—not drinking and driving—but texting and driving. Distracted driving is the new DWI, with lethal consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” It’s not just texting or making calls on a cell phone; any activity that diverts a driver’s attention puts that driver and passengers, and everyone else sharing the road, at serious risk. A partial list of what counts as a distraction would include things such as using a cell phone or smart phone; including texting, eating and drinking, smoking, attending to or disciplining children, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, watching a video, or adjusting a radio or temperature controls. Traffic safety experts classify distractions into three main types, all of which are involved in texting. • Manual Distractions. Those where you move your hands away from the task of controlling the vehicle. Reaching for a soda is an example. • Visual Distractions. Those where you focus your eyes away from the road. You drop your soda; when it spills, you look down at your wet shoes and stained slacks. • Cognitive Distraction is when your mind wanders. You start to consider whether you can afford to replace the clothing you just ruined; you’re no longer paying attention to your driving. Researcher David Strayer (University of Utah) found that talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident, about the same as if you were driving drunk. That risk doubles again, to eight times normal, if you are texting. Moreover, the National Safety Council says that sending or receiving a 11