Teen Distracted Drivers: Does Raising Awareness Make Them Safer?

The hazards of distracted driving are well known across the country. Cell phone use and texting while driving receive plenty of well deserved attention, but everything from eating to changing radio stations or talking with a carload of friends can distract a driver's focus from the road ahead and lead to serious injuries or a fatal motor vehicle accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as many as 6,000 highway deaths each year result from distracted driving. A recent survey shows that teens are increasingly aware of the increased risks of these activities, but they aren't necessarily taking the message to heart.

A survey conducted by Seventeen magazine and the America Automobile Association (AAA) found that the nation's teens have not stopped texting while driving despite their knowledge of its dangers. Almost ninety percent of teenage drivers admit to texting while driving, although about the same proportion understands that their actions increase their risk of a collision. A significant percentage of teens provided simple excuses for their distracted driving practices:

  • 41 percent justify it on the basis that it only takes a split second
  • 35 percent do not believe that they will get hurt
  • 22 percent feel it makes driving less boring
  • 21 percent are accustomed to having constant connections with friends and family

At the same time, 36 percent of teens reported experiencing a near-crash because of their own distracted driving or another driver's. AAA advises drivers that taking your eyes off of the road for a mere two seconds doubles your risk of a car or truck accident.

Wider Adoption of Legal Consequences for Negligent Drivers

Many states have enacted bans on texting and cell phone use, including some legislation that singles out easily distracted teen drivers. Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are representative of the range of progress in implementing laws to hold motorists accountable for distracted driving practices. Kentucky currently bans texting by all drivers and cell phone use by novice drivers, while Indiana forbids phone use and texting by drivers under 18. But bordering Ohio is one of a dwindling number of states that have yet to ban either practice statewide.

Distracted driving is just one of many road hazards that can lead to unexpected injuries and tragedy for a family. For those who feel that they were harmed due to the wrongdoing or recklessness of another driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can provide insight about a range of legal options to recover medical expenses and other damages.