INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- A trial lawyer says texting and cell phone bans for teens behind the wheel don't go far enough, so he has decided to do something to help make the roads safer.
Attorney Douglas Horn claims distracted drivers have become deadlier than drunken drivers. As a result, Horn, who represents accident victims, launched his own driver safety program.
"This has grown into an epidemic that affects not only teens but adults," said Horn.
The National Safety Council says four out of every five accidents nationally can be tied to distracted driving - and the number one distraction is cell phones. The same study shows one out of three crashes to be caused by drunk drivers.
As more and more people hit the roads with their cellphones, Horn wants them to be aware of increasing risks. He says in the last five years he's seen a jump in the number of distracted driving crashes caused by smartphone use.
"We can now check email, update social media, do all the functions that we could do in the office or at home right in our cars," Horn said. "Our cars have become virtual offices. That coaxes people to take their eyes off the road. When they take their eyes off the road, they are a dangerous driver."
A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, State Farm Insurance and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia determined alcohol-related accidents among teens to be dropping, but teenage traffic deaths remain unchanged because distracted driving is on the rise. Horn says distracted driving crashes tend to be more violent because drivers don't take action to avoid them.
"In my experience a drunk driver, because I've handled many of these cases, can manage in many opportunities to somehow brake or take evasive action," Horn said. "Although they are impaired with a slow reaction time they can manage to do that. A distracted driver who's looking at their cell phone who's engaged with whatever they're doing is at real risk for causing collision."
According to Horn, it's a risk not limited to texting teens but also includes multi-tasking adults. He's launched "Drive By Example," a driver safety program to make all drivers aware that the technology they love can kill them.
Horn says accident victims repeatedly tell him they don't want this to happen to anybody else. That's why he started his driver safety program. For more information click here.