Across the country, distracted driving has become one of the most serious problems that drivers face. And recent surveys have shown that teens are more likely to be distracted drivers than any other demographic. According to CarInsurance.com, 59 percent of parents surveyed said that their teens drove in ways that they felt were unsafe, often breaking state laws governing the use of mobile devices. It seems many teens believe that they can split their attention between their mobile devices and driving, to the great risk of other drivers.
Sending and receiving text messages while driving is the most common and dangerous form of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers age 15-19 have the highest percentage of deaths from texting while driving and distracted driving in general has been steadily increasing among all drivers ages 16-24 since 2007.
Distracted Driving and Driver Reaction Times
While driving under the influence of intoxicants is still a very serious problem, in recent years distracted driving has actually surpassed DUI as our country's main traffic-related problem. Recent studies have shown that distracted driving, like driving drunk, seriously impairs a driver's ability to react to their surroundings. When sending or receiving a text message, the average cellphone user must take their eyes off the road for up to five seconds. When your vehicle is traveling at highway speeds of 55 mph or more, five seconds is an eternity. If your ability to act is hampered in any way, the odds that you will be involved in a tragic accident increase exponentially.
Beyond Texting and Driving
Distracted driving may include such activities as grooming, eating, drinking, using the car stereo or an MP3 player or even reading while operating an automobile. Driving teachers across the country stress the urgent need for increased awareness about distracted driving, encouraging parents to provide young people with more opportunities to practice their driving before they get on the road.
Experts agree that teen drivers need to be taught not to develop dangerous driving habits. While laws are being enacted across the country to deter distracted teen drivers from texting while driving, the rate at which young drivers continue to text behind the wheel is still on the increase. Maryland law strictly prohibits any cellphone use while driving for anyone under the age of 18. Obviously, stricter laws and steeper penalties have not been an effective deterrent to practicing dangerous driving habits.
Protect Your Rights
When a distracted teen ends up causing an accident, their victim may be legally entitled to compensation for the teen's negligent actions. If you have been involved in an auto accident with a distracted teen driver, you should seek compensation with the help of a personal injury lawyer.