It seems that evidence of distracted driving is all around us. Drivers sitting at a stop light need only look at the cars around them to see other drivers staring down into their laps or brazenly holding the phone or device in plain view. Law enforcement and safety officials are not ignorant of this fact and have raised the alarm about the increased number of motor vehicle fatalities and injuries due to distracted driving.
Unfortunately, the news gets even worse. According to a study by Journal for Adolescent Health that surveyed 101,000 teens of driving age, it found that 38 percent had sent texts or emails while driving within the last month. The study goes on to point out that the frequency increases with the age of the teen driver. It also adds that these young drivers who use their devices also engage in other risky behavior like not using a seat belt and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
New Mexico ranked in the lowest bracket of the 35 states that participated in the study, but low is consider 26 percent to 39 percent sending a text or email at least once per month. While Santa Fe is an urban area, this risky behavior is most common in low population areas, which make up much of New Mexico.
The study offers several suggestions on how parents can help lower this number, which the authors say is probably lower than the actual rates. Suggestions for parents include:
- Setting an example by not using devices while driving
- Monitoring the driving habits of their teen
- Establish clear rules about cell phone and device usage
- Educating teens on the myths and facts involving distracted driving
- Using incentives for not doing it
- Installing apps that prevent devices from working in a moving vehicle
The unfortunate reality of distracted driving is that these young drivers are contributing to the increase in injuries and fatalities on our roads. Those injured due to negligence of a driver (teen or otherwise) often find it necessary to seek legal guidance from personal injury attorneys who handle crashes. These catastrophic events leave families irrevocably changed. Compensation can help pay for time away from work, medical expenses and other damages.