Alex Heit was a 22-year-old university student when he died in a car accident earlier this year. A caring and thoughtful young man who was studying to be an audiologist, Alex was not speeding at the time of his death. He was not drunk or under the influence of drugs.
He was texting.
In the few seconds that he looked down to reply to a friend’s text, his car veered into the left lane. He looked up to see that he was in the wrong lane facing an oncoming car. He swerved to the right, went off the road and down a steep embankment to his death. His parents agreed to publish a picture of the everyday, forgettable text that cost him his life.
Preventing tragedies like Alex’s has been the motivation for laws prohibiting texting while driving in most states. Alabama established its ban on texting while driving last year.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States, killing 3,000 people and injuring 350,000 more every year. Almost one out of every five accidents is caused by distracted driving.
Texting is a major distraction, leading the driver to look away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds per text. The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that at 55 miles per hour, this is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field while blindfolded.
Other distractions include talking on cell phones, playing with the radio, eating, searching for dropped items, and dealing with children and other passengers.
The bottom line is that none of us are immune, and we must all remind ourselves constantly to drive carefully and avoid distractions. As personal injury attorneys, we have seen too many needless injuries, and too many good people hurt and killed because of needless distractions.