According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 5,500 people in the United States were killed in distracted driving traffic accidents in 2009.  
 
On Monday, March 7, 2011, the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports magazine released the results of a joint poll that shows how widespread distracted driving is among young people.
 
According to the poll, 63 percent of people under the age of 30 acknowledged driving while using a handheld phone; 30 percent said they had sent text messages while behind the wheel. Among drivers over the age of 30, the percentages were lower.  Forty one percent have used a hand held phone and nine percent have texted while driving.
 
Some important facts were highlighted by this study:
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
  • Teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers.
  • The risk of collision is 23 times more likely while texting.
  • 90% of teen drivers do not drink and drive, but 90% of teens have ridden with or seen a distracted teen driver. However, only one-third of the young people said they feel such behavior is very dangerous.

Experts believe that distracted driving should receive as much attention as drunk driving. Alcohol-related accidents among teens have dropped, but teenage driving accident fatality rates have remained unchanged, because of the increase in distracted driving. Distracted driving is now the leading cause of teen death.
 
The Blue Springs, MO auto accident lawyers at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys suggest that parents discuss the risks of driving with their teen and set a good example by not using the phone or texting while driving.  Agree on penalties if the teen uses the phone or texts while driving and they up with a plan for a safe ride home if the teen is riding with a distracted driver.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.