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Distracted Driving is One of Many Obstacles Facing Teen Drivers

Distracted Driving is One of Many Obstacles Facing Teen Drivers

Teenage Drivers and the Dangers of Distracted Driving

It is always an exciting time when your teenager gets his or her driver’s license. It can also be a time of great anxiety for parents who recall how inexperienced they were when they first began driving.

To compound the anxiety is the issue of distracted driving. Within the past decade, this issue has become a matter of great concern, similar to the outcry over drunk driving in the 1970s and 1980s, as cell phones have become more sophisticated and people have come to rely on them for keeping in constant contact with friends, watching videos, and in surfing the internet.

Distracted driving includes any activity that causes a driver to lose concentration while operating a motor vehicle. Besides cell phones, examples of distracted driving are playing music, eating, talking, or watching something outside the vehicle instead of the road.

Even without cell phones to distract them, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal car accidents as adults. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 21. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that in 2009 nearly 5,500 people died and 500,000 injured in accidents involving some form of distracted driving.

Studies from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute indicate that dialing a cell phone can increase the risk of an accident by six times, while texting increases the risk by 23 times. Reaction time to an emergency, which is typically about one to two-seconds, was significantly decreased. One study showed that participants had a reaction time of three to four-seconds while texting or reading a cell phone message.

Almost every US state has implemented some type of law designed to penalize drivers who text or use a cell phone, and those who don’t will surely follow. Some of these laws prohibit drivers under 18 from using a cell phone or other wireless device at all while driving, some simply outlaw texting and driving, and some prohibit drivers from using cell phones at all, unless they are using a hands-free device.

If you have been injured in a car accident by someone using a cell phone, you can use the violation of a state or municipalities’ statute or ordinance to bolster your case. You should consult with a car accident attorney in this case. Even if the negligent driver was using a hands free device, the driver cannot have devoted his or her full attention to driving. Use of a hands-free device, even if permitted, can still reduce a driver’s reaction time and an injured victim can certainly argue that the motorist was not using ordinary care while driving.

The unlawful use of cell phone that led to an injury accident may also be a basis for punitive damages in some cases. The applicable law is usually that the conduct must have been grossly negligent or that is in reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s rights and reflects complete indifference to the safety and rights of others.

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