Our View: Distracted driving nothing new, but made worse by phones (editorial) | VailDaily.com

Our View: Distracted driving nothing new, but made worse by phones (editorial)

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Our View
Cropped shot of man using smartphone whilst driving
Courtesy of Getty Images

Robye Nothnagel has decided to turn injury into action.

Nothnagel, of Eagle, was on a visit to Texas in 2017 when she was badly injured by a texting driver. After a long recovery, Nothnagel has decided to do what she can to help cut down on distracted driving.

Nothnagel has had magnetic signs made, encouraging people to stash their phones while driving. It would be a good thing if everyone put their phones away — or could at least use only hands-free voice technology.

Distracted driving is a growing problem. In 2015 alone, nearly 3,500 people were killed in accidents in which distracted driving was a factor. Distracted driving was also a factor in accidents in which another 391,000 people were injured.

In the Aspen area, an agent for a number of National Basketball Association players was killed in February when he pulled out in front of a bus near Woody Creek. Police say the agent, Dan Fegan, was “probably” using a device at the time of the accident.

But it isn’t just phone use that takes our eyes off the road. As automakers put more and more “infotainment” technology in vehicles, it’s becoming far too easy for drivers to focus on things other than actual driving.

Beyond technology, bouncing dogs and/or squabbling kids can make driving more difficult. If you’re a visitor to this area — or other eye-poppingly scenic spots — then it’s also easy to pay less attention to the road than you should while ogling the view.

Many, perhaps most, drivers can safely handle some amount of multitasking. If not, then a whole lot of kids would miss soccer practice on a regular basis. In fact, distractions are a nearly constant passenger on most vehicle trips, something that’s been true since the first kid on a road trip moaned, “Are we there yet?”

Maybe it’s their relative newness, but it seems phones have a unique ability to draw our attention from the road to the screen. That doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

Until we adapt — if that day ever comes — we’re all better off stashing our devices while behind the wheel. No one wants to be the next victim. Or the next person who causes a crash.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.

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