For Indiana residents, going out on the road these days for a trip to run errands can be a stressful event, especially when someone changes lanes suddenly, goes through a four-way stop, or drives 20 miles over the local speed limit. While the reported incidents of distracted and risky driving have gone up across the country, teen drivers who are just learning the rules may see less than model behavior out there when they take their road test.
But teenagers already have a greater tendency to check their cellphones throughout the day than other age groups, so it is no surprise that once they get behind the wheel of a car, they are more likely to get distracted while driving. The combination of lack of experience and greater reliance on cellphones makes distracted driving deadly for teen drivers.
How dangerous is distracted driving among teens?
Distracted driving is a major problem across all age groups, and it is estimated that this problem causes 80% of all motor vehicle accidents. More than half of crashes involving teens are because of driver distraction. According to a survey from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day 660,000 drivers are using a cellphone while behind the wheel.
Sadly, teenagers between the ages of 16 to 19 are three times more likely to have a fatal car accident due to distracted driving. One in five teen drivers who have been in an accident were distracted by their cellphone. And motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among teenagers in this country.
What is distracted driving?
Besides talking or dialing a number on a cellphone, or texting or looking at a text, distracted driving can take many other forms. Anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or attention away from driving, is a form of distracted driving. Some examples include:
- Eating a sandwich
- Brushing hair
- Adjusting mirrors
- Looking at a GPS or checking playlists
Many states including Indiana not only ban texting but also holding a phone while driving, but getting a ticket is not the end of the story. That violation can shoot up the driver’s insurance premium by as much as $290 a year. And if an accident results in injury or death to another driver, the distracted driver may face serious consequences from the other party in the form of a negligence claim. In Indiana, the claimant can recover economic and noneconomic damages, and an award for punitive damages can result if the accident was the result of gross negligence.