Many teens can't keep themselves from texting while driving

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that for U.S. residents between the ages of 5 and 24, the leading cause of death is motor vehicle accidents. Taking proper precautions on the road, such as not speeding, proper use of protective car seats for children, and avoiding actions that lead to distracted driving can help reduce the number of fatal car accidents. The CDC estimates that nine people are killed every day in the U.S., and more than 1,000 are injured as a result of distracted driving.

As startling as that statistic is, it continues to be difficult to convince young drivers that texting or emailing while driving is dangerous. The Journal of Adolescent Health reports that a Youth Risk Behavior Survey of more than 101,000 teen-agers found that 38 percent had texted or sent an email while driving at least once in the past 30 days. A whopping 56 percent of teen drivers 18 and older said they sometimes or frequently text while driving.

This doesn't even take into account teens who use their cellphone to download music, make a call or take a photo while driving. Those questions were not asked as part of the survey.

Setting a better example

The authors of the survey report say parents can attack this problem from several angles, including better role modeling. It goes a long way when teen drivers see their parents keep their own cellphones safely stored away while driving, even when a phone rings.

Those parents who observe their teen-age drivers using a cellphone while driving may consider installing an app that blocks cellphone use while in a car. A 2015 study of these apps showed that installing a cellphone-blocking app significantly reduced cellphone use among teen drivers. However, about 15 percent found ways to bypass the apps or just used friends' cellphones while driving.

Accidents will happen

Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents resulting from distracted driving will continue to occur. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that diverting your attention from the road for five seconds while driving 55 mph is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Ohio law prohibits all drivers under age 18 from using electronic wireless communications for texting or even hands-free talking. Texting and driving is illegal for a driver of any age.

The victims of distracted driving include people who follow the laws, but are injured anyway when a distracted driver causes an accident. When this occurs, it is important to enlist the services of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can work to maximize the amount that is recovered for medical costs, lost wages and other expenses.

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