No one is completely impervious to distractions. Indeed, even the safest of drivers may be distracted by their favorite song on the radio, adjusting the heat or volume, or a child within the vehicle. But for teens, the problem of distracted driving is particularly worrisome. In fact, in a single year, there were 263 teens killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the same year, there were 303 total people killed in distracted driving-related crashes where the teen was the distracted driver.
Facts About Teens and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. And as mobile phones and hand-held devices have become more ubiquitous, the number of distracted driving-related traffic accidents has surged. TeenSafe.com, citing data from the NHTSA, reports that distracted driving causes 15 percent of all injury crashes.
One of the biggest sources of distraction for teens (and drivers of all ages) are cellphones. In fact, cellphone use accounted for 14 percent of all distracted driving-related collisions in a single year. Despite the fact that nearly all states in the nation prohibit texting while driving, many teens cannot resist the urge to look at their phones when behind the wheel.
It is important to note that teen crash rates are roughly four times higher than are adult crash rates, so we’re not just singling young people out randomly. Using a cellphone while behind the wheel only increase the risk that a teen will be involved in a crash.
Other Sources of Distractions that Affect Teens
While cellphone and other handheld devices, such as iPads, may be the most common sources of distractions for teens who are driving, they are by no means the only distractions. Other common distractions that teens face include:
- Eating or drinking while driving;
- Talking to other passengers (having friends in the car may increase the risk of an accident);
- Listening to or attempting to change music;
- Self-grooming, including applying makeup while driving; and
Talking to Teens About Distracted Driving
As a parent of a teen, it is your responsibility to talk to your teen about safe driving, including the risks of driving while distracted. In addition to talking to your teen about driving hazards, it is also wise to put some guidelines and rules in place to help your teen make safe decisions. For example, parents may consider rules about how many passengers can be in the car at once, especially if the passengers are other teenagers. Parents can also use parental controls to block incoming text messages and calls on a teen’s phone while the teenager is operating a motor vehicle.
Liability for an Accident Caused by a Distracted Teen Driver
If a teen does cause a car accident as a result of distracted driving, it is important to know that that teens, or their parents, can be held liable for damages. Virginia is an at-fault car accident state, which means that the party who causes a crash is responsible for paying for any damages that result.
Contact a Virginia Car Accident Attorney Today
As new and inexperienced drivers, the risk of being involved in an accident is greater for teens, especially when distractions are present. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of a collision is to ensure that teens are driving distraction-free.
If a teen does cause a car accident, it is important to know your rights, whether you’re the teen, the teen’s parent, or the car accident victim. At the law offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., our Virginia car accident attorneys can answer any questions you have, and represent you if you’ve been harmed in a crash. Call us for your initial consultation at 703-361-1555, send us a message using the intake form on our website, or visit our Manassas office in person.