A look around Los Angeles-area highways is all the evidence needed to see
that distracted driving is a major problem. Although cellphones are often
the named enemy, drivers regularly engage in other distracting behaviors
that include putting on makeup, eating meals, adjusting the car stereo
and adjusting/setting GPS devices.
Distracted driving seems to be especially problematic among teen drivers,
who are already at a much higher risk of a
fatal car accident due to their inexperience behind the wheel. And according to a study released
by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, the distracted driving problem is worse than experts thought.
In past estimates, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
said distraction plays a key role in about 14% of crashes caused by teen drivers. This is significant in and of itself, but the results of a recent study
suggest the numbers are much higher.
According to the study, distraction plays a key role in almost 60% of
teen-driver crashes. The study also revealed that:
For crashes in which a teen driver rear-ended another vehicle, distraction
played a key role approximately
75% of the time.
For crashes in which the teen's vehicle veered off the roadway, distraction
was to blame
90% percent of the time.
This research has been lauded as the most comprehensive distracted driving
study to date. Researchers gathered data on some 1,700 crashes through
in-car video recorders.
Parents should be concerned about distracted driving for a number of reasons,
including the threat it poses to the safety and lives of their teenagers.
But there are other drivers to consider, too. When teens drive distracted
and seriously injure or kill someone in the process, their parents could
potentially be named as defendants in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
The bottom line is simple: Distracted driving is a behavior than none of
us can afford. The risks are simply too high and the consequences too