Who Is Most Likely to be Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident?

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distracted driving

At some point, you have probably looked over and seen the driver next to you talking on the phone or reading a text message. You may have even seen this happen as you were driving on a highway where motorists are driving at a speed of 65 mph or higher. Talking and texting on the phone while driving are just a couple of examples of distracted driving, and it is a major problem that continues to cause serious injuries and fatalities across the United States. Although most motorists engage in some type of distracted driving at some point, inexperienced teen drivers are more likely to drive while distracted compared with older, more experienced drivers. Unfortunately, this can have very serious, even fatal consequences if the distracted teen driver causes a serious car accident. If you or someone you know is seriously injured in a distracted driving accident, you are urged to contact a distracted driving accident lawyer as soon as possible.

What Are the Different Types of Distraction?

Distracted driving is any type of activity that takes your attention away from the road. Although talking and texting are among the most common types of distracted driving, there are a range of other behaviors that cause motorists to become distracted, including reaching for something in the back seat, changing the radio station, and eating or drinking. These behaviors fall into several categories, including the following:

  • Visual distractions: This is anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road. Looking at your phone to read a text message or looking in the back seat to check on your child are examples of visual distractions.
  • Auditory distractions: These are any type of sound that causes you to become distracted. Listening to music or having a conversation with another passenger in the vehicle are examples of auditory distractions.
  • Manual distractions: This is anything that causes you to take your hands off the steering wheel. Examples include eating or drinking, reaching for something in the back seat, and using your electronics. Texting is a manual distraction and a visual distraction, which is why it is so dangerous.
  • Cognitive distractions: This occurs when you lose focus and your mind begins to wander. As a result, you are not focused on driving and paying attention to other motorists in the vicinity. Talking on the phone is an example of a cognitive distraction. In fact, even if you are using a hands-free device, talking on the phone causes you to focus some of your attention on the conversation rather than focusing entirely on the act of safely operating a motor vehicle.

What Are Examples of Distracted Driving Behavior?

When your attention is not focused on the road ahead and the act of safely operating a motor vehicle, you put yourself, your passengers, and other motorists in the vicinity at risk of being injured in a distracted driving accident. The following are examples of common distracted driving behaviors:

  • Texting while driving
  • Talking on the phone while driving
  • Grabbing something from the passenger seat or the back seat
  • Applying makeup
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Setting up the GPS system
  • Focusing on something in the rear-view mirror
  • Having a conversation with another passenger or passengers

Why are Teen Drivers More Likely to Drive Distracted?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen drivers are three times more likely to text while driving compared with older, more experienced drivers. One explanation for this is that teens’ brains are still developing, which means that they have not fully developed regulatory competence, or the ability to control one’s emotions, regulate attention, and function competently under challenging circumstances.  In addition to lacking the impulse control that adults have, teens’ developing brains affect their ability to safely and effectively respond to a stressful situation or take the necessary steps to avoid an accident. The following statistics reveal how serious the issue is among teen drivers:

  • In 2018, approximately 25 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents were young drivers between the ages of 20 and 29.
  • Drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were more likely to be distracted than older drivers. Of the fatal accidents in which a teen driver died in a car accident, nine percent of the accidents were caused by distracted driving.
  • According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, close to 40 percent of high school students who drove in the past 30 days either texted or emailed while driving at least once during that period.
  • The students who texted or emailed while driving ranged from kids who got mostly As and Bs to average or below average students.
  • Students who texted while driving were more likely to engage in other risky behavior as well, including not always wearing a seat belt. They were also more likely to drink and drive or get in a car with a driver who is under the influence of alcohol.
  • Older teens were more likely to text or email while driving than younger teen drivers.
  • Drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were more likely to drive while distracted than any other age group.

What Can Parents Do to Prevent Teens from Driving While Distracted?

Teens do not always consider the consequences of their actions, including the dangers of sending a single text or making a quick phone call while driving. They think that it is no big deal to send a quick text or talk on the phone while driving. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth. There are a number of steps that parents can take to ensure that their teen drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving, and that they avoid engaging in distracted driving behaviors when they are behind the wheel.

  • Set a good example. Kids learn about safe driving habits from their parents. If a parent is talking on the phone, reading a text, or constantly fidgeting with the radio or GPS, the teen driver is more likely to mimic that behavior. However, if the parent puts his or her phone away while driving and keeps his or her attention focused on the road at all times, the teen driver is more likely to follow the rules of the road and avoid distracted driving.
  • Create a driving contract. Parents should have a discussion with their teen drivers about safe driving habits and go over the rules of the road, as well as the rules that are specific to that family. The teen driver and the parents should sign the contract and discuss what the consequences will be for breaking the rules.
  • Understand the graduated driver’s license (GDL). The three stages of a GDL include a supervised learner’s permit, an intermediate license, and a driver’s license with full privileges. During the first six months of having an intermediate driver’s license, the motorist cannot drive with passengers under the age of 20 unless they are immediate family members. In addition, the teen driver may not drive between 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • Understand the rules of the road. That means following the speed limit; obeying the traffic signs; and avoiding any unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, and distracted or drunk driving.

What Can I Do to Avoid a Distracted Driving Accident?

Although you cannot control other drivers, including an inexperienced teen driver, there are proactive steps you can take to prevent a distracted driving car accident, including the following:

  • Put your phone away and use the Do Not Disturb setting so that you do not get text alerts while driving. If you need to make a phone call or send a text, pull over to the safe spot or parking lot. If there is another passenger in the vehicle and you need to send a quick text, have the passenger send the text and read the response to you.
  • If you need to program the GPS system, make sure that you do this before you start driving. This will allow you to keep your attention focused on the road.
  • Do not eat, drink, apply makeup, or perform any other tasks that will take your attention off the road.
  • Make sure that all passengers are properly secured. Wearing a seat belt is one of the most simple and effective things you can do to stay safe and prevent serious injuries or fatalities in the event of a car accident. Moreover, this can prevent distractions while driving.

Baltimore Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers

If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a distracted driving accident involving a newly licensed teen driver, you are urged to contact the Baltimore distracted driving accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. Distracted driving continues to be a major problem, particularly among teen drivers. We will investigate the circumstances of the accident, determine who is responsible for causing the accident, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.