Teenage Drivers And Distracted Driving: A Fatal Mix


The New York Times just wrote a good article warning about the catastrophe we have with our young drivers and their addiction to cell phones and technology.

I’ve blogged about this problem here and and here many times and see what a serious problem it is on a daily basis in my practice as a personal injury lawyer. We were just hired on a new case caused by a teen aged boy and you can bet a cell phone is involved.

Statistics reveal that in 2013, a shocking one million teenage drivers were involved in motor vehicle accidents — and those are just the ones where police were called. As a result, there were 373,645 injuries and 2,927 deaths. There were an average of six teenagers a day who died.

“If you’re going to have an early, untimely death,” said Dr. Nichole Morris, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, “the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17 and the reason for that is driving.”

Deaths due to motor vehicle accidents for this age group far exceeds suicide, cancer and other types of accidents, Dr. Morris said. There is no reason for this with safer roads and vehicles.

How To Prevent Teenage Driving Crashes

1. Turn off or disable the cell phone. Better yet, do not let your teen driver even have one when he or she drives. Obviously. It is a well known fact that teens drive while watching their phones more than any other group. They take it for granted.

2. Do not allow friends to drive with your teenager. This increases the risk of a crash by 44%, and that doubles with a second passenger and quadruples with three or more.

Teens under 18 with a provisional license are restricted from having more than one passenger besides a family member in the car while driving in Texas.

The problem is the worst when boys are allowed to ride with other boys. Dr. Morris pointed out that the cell phone doesn’t encourage the teen driver to drive 80 in a 50 zone.

Remember the drunk Ethan Couch, who was barreling down a residential road at 68 mph on a 40 mph road? His truck was loaded with other teens and he was clearly just showing off as he accelerated and swerved into some innocent bystanders.

3. Monitor your kids more closely. Install apps that prohibit them from using their phones while driving. Disable Google maps and Spotify. Become a back seat driver. Ask questions about where they’ve been and who they’ve driven with. Don’t take it for granted that they are driving safely.

4. If you can, prevent your teen from drinking and driving. Of course, that is is not acceptable at any age and drinking alcohol before age 21 is illegal.

5. We must pass a law banning texting while driving. Texas is one of only four states in the country that allows this dangerous practice. As a result, 40 cities have had to pass their own anti-texting laws, so we now have a crazy patchwork of ordinances that changes as you drive from one town to the next.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has finally added a code on its crash reports for officers to detail distracted driving.

Why can’t our state legislators figure out that this is a dangerous problem that needs to be outlawed?

If you have been involved in a car or truck accident, please contact us by phone at 817-885-8000 or toll-free at 1-888-801-8585 or email. We are here to help you with this often difficult process.

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