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Doctors, police officers warn of the dangers of distracted driving

Distracted driving, especially having to do with cellphones and texting, is one of the top causes for car accidents in North Carolina. Doctors have noticed a pronounced spike in accidents involving distracted driving, leading them to dub the summer months as "trauma season." In North Carolina, texting while driving is completely banned and cellphone use is restricted for novice drivers in hopes of preventing car accidents.

However, officials are questioning the effectiveness of the ban because of its difficulty to enforce. Recently, a report was released showing that these types of bans could actually lead to more distraction when violators hide their phones to prevent police officers from catching them. A doctor from the New Hanover Regional Medical Center suggested that everyone has an accident or near-accident story involving a cellphone. He believes that in this case, technology is not helping public safety.

Medical personal claim distracted driving is one of the most common reasons that people end up at the hospital in need of medical care from a car accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now calling distracted driving an epidemic, with statistics showing it took the lives of 3,000 people in 2010 alone. However, they also point to the difficulty of tracking accidents related to distractions on the road and believe the actual number of deaths caused by it could be higher.

Statistics from AAA showed that more teenagers die in the summer months due to distracted driving accidents. While cellphone and texting bans can be difficult to enforce, North Carolina law enforcement supports it as a way to potentially decrease the number of fatal accidents. One police officer believes the best way to curb the dangerous habit is to pull over, either into a parking lot or on the side of the road, to make a call or send a text. Doing so could prevent a serious accident.

Source: StarNewsOnline, "Drivers, take note: It's trauma season," Brian Freskos, June 9, 2012

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