Despite the risks, many teen drivers are ignoring cell phone driving restrictions. According to statistics provided by the Pittsburg Post Gazette and the Washington Post, over one-third of all young drivers, ages 24 and under, are texting on the road while simultaneously admitting that texting is the number one distraction while driving. It is estimated talking on a cell phone can make a young driver’s reaction time equal to that of a 70 year old, and with texting, an even slower reaction time.
In 2007, driver distractions, such as using a cell phone or text messaging, contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16 and 17 year old drivers. In addition, 52% of 16 and 17 year old teen drivers confess to making and answering cell phone calls on the road, 34% admit to texting while behind the wheel.
What may be even more troubling is 56% of all teenagers admit to talking on their cell phones behind the wheel, while 13% admit to texting while driving. Proportionally, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage with this result expected to grow as much as 4% every year. With these statistics, it is quite possible that the actual numbers are higher because the information was provided on a voluntary basis.
However, as we are all too frequently reminded, drivers who do not give their full attention to driving not only put themselves at risk, but also put those who are riding with them at risk as well. In a poll of 12 to 17 year olds, 48% say they have been in a car with while the driver was texting.
As a law firm specializing in personal injury and wrongful death, we find these statistics particularly troubling. Each year we see far too many lives cut short, and the severe damage caused because of the negligence of another person. With the number of teen drivers talking and texting while driving trending up, it is our fear that more lives will be lost and the safety of our roadways will be decreased.