In January, a Florida state trooper caught an erratic driver on his dashboard camera. In the video, the driver’s car swerves over the dividing line and into the outside lane marker. He hits his brakes repeatedly for no apparent reason. As he approaches the intersection, he stops and goes in jerking motions and for a split second seems ready to pull out in front of another motorist. He makes a right turn, goes wide and suddenly beelines for a utility pole. After swiping the pole, his car hits a tree and then rolls over onto the roof.
Fortunately, the tale ends well. The dash-cam video shows the man climbing out of his vehicle, clearly shaken but unharmed. The officer reported later that the man miraculously suffered no injuries in the harrowing crash. Michael James Woody Jr. — the unwitting 23-year-old star of the video — was not drunk. He was texting.
Mr. Woody was so engrossed in his texting conversation that he didn’t notice how wildly he was driving, nor did he see the police officer following right behind him. Not only did Mr. Woody put his own life in danger, he also endangered other motorists and would-be pedestrians walking along the quiet road.
Distraction.gov statistics reflect the frightening issue of distracted drivers:
- 3,328 people died in distraction-related accidents in 2012.
- 421,000 people sustained injuries in auto accidents involving a distracted driver in 2012.
- Distracted driving injuries increased by nine percent from 2011 to 2012.
- During any single daytime moment, about 660,000 drivers are distracted by a phone or electronic device.
- Drivers who engage in a task related to a handheld portable device were at three times the risk of accident.
- The average five seconds required to text is equivalent to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph while wearing a blindfold.
- 10 percent of teenage drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle collisions were found to be distracted at the time.
Next time you think about texting while driving, think about the lucky man in the video. If you were injured by a distracted driver, consult with an auto accident lawyer in San Diego County.