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Distracted Driving: Are Beleaguered Workers Making Roadways Dangerous?

The dangers of distracted driving have made national headlines this year, as state after state has attempted to deal with the practice that studies say may be more dangerous than drunk driving. This fall, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood went so far as to host the first ever Distracted Driving Summit, aimed at bringing together transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement professionals and academics to discuss the growing problem.

Even with all the attention shone on texting while driving and the use of cell phones or even laptop computers while behind the wheel, the issue does not seem to be going away. In fact, it is possible that the struggling economy and rising unemployment rate may even be exacerbating the problem, as workers feel pressured to get more accomplished in less time.

Recently, in the latest in a series of columns exploring the phenomenon of distracted driving, the New York Times highlighted a number of workers from varying fields: salesmen, real estate brokers, delivery workers, and executives. Blue-collar and white-collar alike, all felt the need to multi-task while behind the wheel.

An increasing number of truck and delivery companies are installing sophisticated computers in their vehicles, which are then used to relay dispatch and routing information and to communicate with the drivers. Outside salespersons and real estate professionals, on the other hand, are giving up central offices in favor of “rolling cubicles” – cell phones, laptop computers and wireless internet cards to stay in touch with their customers and accounts while traveling from site to site.

The dangerous nature of the practice is not lost on all companies; recently some corporations have gone so far as to ban the use of cell phones or computers while driving. President Obama even issued an executive order directing federal employees not to engage in texting while operating government vehicles, or even when using their own vehicles while on government business.

Still, with the pressure to compete in a tough economy and the difficulty of enforcing a ban on the use of digital devices while behind the wheel, it is likely that the practice will continue. If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your options.

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