Should The Punishment for Distracted Driving be More Severe?


Angelica Peralta, Staff Writer

It’s hard to believe we all put our lives at risk on a daily basis by doing an ordinary task as simple as driving. It’s even more unthinkable to believe we’d be the ones consciously willing to not just put ourselves but others at risk as well. Distracted driving for years has been the leading cause of car accidents claiming the lives of  3,166 individuals in 2017 alone. Drivers aren’t realizing the power they have every time they back out of their driveway. Whenever someone is on the road, they have the ability to cause an accident that could lead to someone being injured or even worse killed. In the moment we all rationalize with ourselves, thinking it’ll only take a second or maybe you’ve said it’s only one time. Our reckless actions of not making the better choice of pulling over or dealing with the situation at a later time can come with severe consequences. An inattentive driver should never have to be the reason someone loses their life. For the protection of all drivers, America should make distracted driving punishments more severe. 

When most people hear distracted driving they automatically think about texting, however, it involves more than just that. It covers anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Distracted driving is a nationwide issue however, no state bans all cellphone use for all drivers of any age. They only have laws prohibiting cell phone usage for novice, teens, and school bus drivers. Even then, violators typically only have to pay a $50 to $500 fine. Many states are also not expanding laws to include banning handheld devices beyond cell phones. The main problem is that the current regulations aren’t doing their job to limit distracted driving because they are too lenient and put too much good faith in adults. If offenders are intimidated by the consequences resulting from not paying attention they will be less likely to do it again. It should be obvious that adjustments need to be made to existing regulations when drivers are six times more likely to get into a car accident by distracted driving than drunk driving. 

Banning cell phone usage in all states for all ages would be an ideal way to cut down on distractions for drivers, as one out of four accidents is caused by texting and driving. Another way would be to raise the fine for violators to a larger amount so that offenders would be cautious while operating a vehicle, in order to not have to spend their money unnecessarily. Raising the point value for distracted driving would furthermore have drivers less willing to take their eyes off the road, as they would instead prioritize the idea of losing their license. Any form of legislative action needs to be taken to create new laws or fix already existing ones to make them stricter and have tougher punishments.

With the number of people on the road on a daily basis and the severe effects it can have on victims of accidents, a change must be made about how lenient the government is being in regards to these reckless tendencies. For everyone’s safety, it’s important to have all drivers recognize the million different things that can happen in the five seconds it took them to look away from the road. Despite the potentially life-threatening actions taking place, most states only require violators to pay a monetary fee depending on how many prior offenses you’ve had. While a harsher punishment may seem too extreme for acts that people do on a daily basis, it’s for that reason that the government has to become stricter.