Distracted Driving in the Digital Age: April 25, 2014

Car crashes are the driving force behind trips to the Trauma Center. Data from Lee Memorial Health System reveals 42% of trauma cases in 2012 involved a motor vehicle.

Experts believe one cause is at our fingertips - the ever invasive smartphone.

“In today’s society they have made us so bound to our phones with work and everything that so many people have it right at their hip or in their pocket or in their lap,” says driver Tara Warner.

Mark Tesoro analyzes data for Lee Memorial Health System’s Trauma Center.

“You start having those distractions take over and really intrude upon the task at hand then it starts becoming dangerous and we start seeing traumas occur,” Tesoro says.

The National Safety Council estimates one in four crashes are related to cell phones - maybe more. While drivers may admit to talking, few confess to texting. That’s where driver Vince McDowell draws the line.

“I don’t. Used to but there’s just too much activity that you need to pay attention to our there so i don't,” McDowell says.

When you think about it, our smartphones do it all. The advantages of being able to talk, listen to music, take pictures, surf the web, email and text- come with a huge downside- creating a digital distraction for drivers.

“It’s only very recently we’re collecting the data on traffic crashes; hard data from the actual scene. But the numbers suggest it is absolutely astronomical in terms of crashes that occur from distractions,” Tesoro says.

Taking your eyes off the road for even an instant slows reaction time and could make the difference between life and death.

“You are not only putting your own life in your hands but you’re putting somebody else’s life at risk.  Remember, you have a 3,500 pound weapon, potentially, on the road.”

Reason enough to disconnect and drive.