Mariano Morales, a Washington State personal injury lawyer, says government agencies should continue their efforts to prevent distracted driving crashes even after the departure of Ray LaHood, the Transportation Secretary who brought attention to the issue.
Yakima, Wash. — Federal efforts to raise awareness about distracted driving are an important part of preventing serious car accidents, and Yakima personal injury lawyer Mariano Morales today called on the government to continue its efforts to combat distracted driving even after the current Department of Transportation head steps down.
Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made preventing distracted driving a cornerstone of his years in office. Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation has held two national distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue.
“Cars are full of distractions, from cell phones to GPS units and even passengers. Anything that draws attention to this dangerous problem and prevents more people from driving while distracted is good for the people of Washington and the United States,” said Morales, founder of Mariano Morales Law, a Yakima-based personal injury law firm.
According to a recent news article, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that it will continue LaHood’s efforts to combat the dangerous practice of distracted driving even after the secretary leaves.
“Secretary LaHood made a real difference in highlighting the dangers of distracted driving through things like his speeches, blog and the website Distraction.gov,” Morales said. “We are encouraged that this important work will continue even after LaHood steps down from his post because there is still so much work to be done.”
NHTSA recently reported it is close to finalizing voluntary in-vehicle guidelines to help carmakers avert distracted driving. The proposals include limits to manual inputs for in-car devices, limiting to two seconds the time needed to look away from the road to operate devices and limiting unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view.
“Voluntary guidelines are a good step, but it’s just a first step,” Morales said. “We urge NHTSA and other government agencies to press on in their efforts to prevent crashes caused by distracted drivers and save lives.”
According to NHTSA, 3,331 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2011 and 387,000 people were injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver.
Cell phone use, and texting in particular, is especially dangerous because it takes a person’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. A federal study shows that texting increases the risk of having a car accident by 23 times.
“The dangers of distracted driving are clear and underscore the importance of continued campaigns against this dangerous practice,” Morales said. “Just like education on drinking and driving raised awareness of that issue, we must work to raise the profile of distracted driving and prevent the serious car crashes that can result from it.”
In Washington State, it is illegal for drivers to talk or text on a handheld cell phone. New drivers can’t use handheld or hands-free devices. But a law cannot actually stop everyone from using cell phones while driving, and other distractions abound behind the wheel.
Morales encouraged anyone who has been a victim of a distracted driving accident to seek legal help from a qualified car accident lawyer such as those at Mariano Morales Law. “Our firm has the knowledge and experience to fully investigate distracted driving cases and get victims the compensation they deserve,” he said.
About Mariano Morales Law
Mariano Morales Law is a full-service personal injury law firm serving clients in communities throughout Washington’s Yakima Valley, including Yakima, Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco and Kennewick), Wenatchee, Grant County and Chelan County. Mariano Morales Jr. started the firm in 1994. Six times, he has been voted “Best Attorney” in Yakima Valley by readers of the Yakima Valley Business Journal. The firm helps clients in product liability, car accident, truck accident, nursing home abuse and neglect and many other cases involving traumatic injuries or wrongful death. The firm’s office is located at 1200 Chesterly Drive, Suite 180, Yakima, WA 98902 (local phone (509) 457-1948). To learn more, call toll free at (866) 972-0493 or use the firm’s online form.