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How to put a stop to distracted driving

Even though many states, including California, have adopted laws that forbid people from texting and/or using their cellphones while driving, they don't appear to be doing much to help the problem of distracted driving, an epidemic that kills more than nine people per day on average in the United States.

In fact, research from the University of Alabama determined that bans on texting have only been associated with a 3 percent drop in traffic fatalities. Recently, a public health expert said that the reason the laws aren't working could be that people are essentially addicted to their cellphones.

The health expert discussed research on impulse control disorder and concluded that the best way to combat distracted driving may be through laws that require cellphones to be out of sight while the vehicle is in motion.

He compared allowing drivers to have their cellphones on their laps while driving to allowing drug addicts to have drugs in plain sight but then expect them not to use the drugs.

The health expert said it will likely take tens of thousands more deaths caused by distracted driving before lawmakers consider the "out of sight" requirement for cellphones in vehicles, but he suggested that drivers in the meantime can help themselves resist the urge by putting their cellphones away while driving.

This is great advice for people who know that distracted driving is dangerous -- and illegal -- but still find it difficult to resist thumbing through Facebook or sending off a text while behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, many people don't realize just how dangerous distracted driving is until they cause a serious accident. Following an accident caused by distracted driving, the driver can often be held liable in civil as well as criminal lawsuits for their actions.

Source: The Huffington Post, "We Need to Consider Stronger Laws on Cellphone Use While Driving," Brad Stulberg, Oct. 27, 2014

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