April has been declared Distracted Driving Awareness Month to bring attention to a troubling hazard on the highways: driving while distracted. Drivers in Wyoming and throughout the country should heed the words of the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority on the subject.

The statistics are sobering: According to the NHTSA, nearly 3,500 people are killed annually due to distracted driving, and nearly 400,000 people are injured. The NHTSA has estimated that it takes approximately 5 seconds to read a text message. If the driver is operating a vehicle at 55 mph, he or she will have traveled nearly 300 feet while reading the text. If the speed is increased to 65 mph, the distance traveled increases to nearly 500 feet.

Many states, including Wyoming, have prohibited the practice of texting while driving. However, distracted driving can involve more than texting. Talking on handheld phones, adjusting a GPS, searching for a song or any other activity can keep the driver from following their primary duty on the road to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.

Drivers must be made to understand that a few seconds of distraction on the road can lead to a lifetime of tragedy. In some instances, it may end a life. This is why the NHTSA encourages younger drivers to enroll in an organization such as Students Against Destructive Decisions. It is meant to increase awareness among younger drivers and create a pledge system where members promise not to engage in unsafe driving activities.

Personal injury attorneys know that rules of the road are a minimum standard of conduct for drivers to follow. Other forms of distracted driving may fall below that standard. If an individual is injured in a car accident, their personal injury attorney may investigate whether the other driver was distracted as part of the case.