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Distracted Driving and Teens

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If your teenager has an accident while driving, the first suspicion by law enforcement will be that he was distracted.

That’s because when you combine an inexperienced driver with distraction the combination can have deadly results. And that officer understands that teens are also involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers, according to AAA.

Distracted Driving

Distraction can take many forms and includes anything that takes your attention away from the primary task of driving. Examples of common distractions that drivers encounter include adjusting the radio, eating food, putting on makeup, and talking to those in the back seat.

Perhaps the most dangerous of all driver distractions is electronic activity such as text messaging.

AAA in its Guide to Teen Driver Safety writes young drivers are the most avid users of smart phones while behind the wheel. It’s Foundation for Traffic Safety reports more than half of teens say they use a cell phone while driving. More than 25% admit they send a text message while driving.

Using a smart phone to text distracts drivers in several ways:

* Manual – Taking your hands off the wheel to adjust a radio or pet the dog

* Visual – looking at kids in the back seat, carrying on a conversation or checking out an accident

* Cognitive – Daydreaming, looking at a list, thinking about work

According to a study by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. The 6 seconds it takes to look at a text is enough time to drive the length of a football field.

And the teens don’t seem to be getting it.

Distracted Driving Statistics

State Farm Insurance surveyed 697 teens nationwide. It finds that many teen drivers, inexperienced behind the wheel, do not think texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving.  The survey finds just over half of teen drivers, ages 14 through 17, strongly agree they could be killed if driving under the influence. Only 36 percent believe that can happen if they text while driving. 

Not only teens can be injured in a crash. Other innocent parties can as well and the statistics show:

  • Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes – AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

  • 25% of teens respond to a text message at least once every time they drive – DOT

  • In 2015 there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers – NHTSA

  • Ten percent of fatal crashes and 15% of injury crashes in 2015 were affected by distracted driving – NHTSA

  • The Department of Transportation blames distracted driving for 3,166 vehicle crashes in 2017

  • iPhone users had a significantly higher trend of distracted driving activities behind the wheel as Android users – Survey March 2019, The Zebra

These are preventable injuries and deaths! Put down the phone while driving.  Most major carriers now have an app that tells a caller that you are driving and disables your phone. Use it!

Parents should also understand that when they drive distracted their teen is two to four times as likely to also drive distracted. 

Virginia Law Enforcement

In Virginia, a young driver under the age of 18 is banned from using any kind of wireless communication while behind the wheel. That includes handheld and hands-free cell phones.

Virginia has a graduated driver license system. It allows one non-family teen passenger under 21 in the car during the first year of driving. By midnight they are to be off the road. That is intended to reduce all distraction in the vehicle.

Ultimately, all drivers are prohibited from texting and emailing in Virginia where it is a primary traffic offense. That means you can be pulled over for that alone if an officer sees you texting.

Violate the law and you are likely to face a ticket, a fine, suspended driving privileges, court, attorney fees, and an increase in your insurance rates.

A penalty can include a traffic ticket and a fine of $125 for the first violation and double that for the second.  A texting violation can also lead to a reckless driving conviction.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in Virginia? Contact the Pack Law Group

The Pack Law Group is always available to discuss any injuries you suffered in an auto accident. Let us help you seek the justice you deserve. Call our offices a (540) 328-2886 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment.

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