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May 16, 2017

Transportation attorney Mary Schiavo in APITLA magazine on ‘Is cellphone use behind the wheel going away anytime soon?’

Motley Rice attorney Mary Schiavo, a CNN Transportation Analyst and former U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General, was featured on the cover of a recent issue of APITLA’s magazine The Lawyer’s LogBook in which she discussed the correlation between cellphone usage and an increasing number of traffic deaths recorded in recent years by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). APITLA is a national association for interstate trucking lawyers.

Distracted driving is an “underreported phenomenon,” Mary wrote, that tragically claims thousands of lives and injures even more each year. Mary explored who is to blame for the rising death toll and what can be done to combat the deadly distraction that affects virtually everyone.

Mary stated, “17,775 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first six months of 2016, a 10.4 percent increase over the same period in 2015. Industry experts point to one potential cause: cellphones.”

On average, Mary wrote, a driver sending a text message “takes his eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, and at a speed of 55 MPH, travels the length of a football field. Blindfolded.”

NHTSA recently published new distracted driving guidelines asking phone manufacturers to “take the choice out of the driver’s hands” by disabling non-essential phone functionality when the user is behind the wheel, similar to how passengers turn their phones to airplane mode when embarking on a flight. In addition, litigation filed in 2016 against iPhone manufacturer Apple Inc., raised questions about corporate social responsibility as not-yet-deployed technology could be used to limit the risk and curb the number of deaths.

To share your opinions on cellphone usage behind the wheel and potential regulations, contact NHTSA during its public comment period.