Danger of Car Accidents: The Popularity of Texting Behind the Wheel Among Teens

When a teenager gets his or her driver's license a new feeling of freedom often follows, but parents of teenagers may experience a new feeling of worry as they think about the safety of their teenager on the road. Unfortunately, parents may have another reason to worry. Thanks to the widespread use of cellphones among teens, distracted driving has become a significant source of car accidents for young drivers. In Pennsylvania, it's against the law for teenage drivers to use cellphones while behind the wheel, but like older drivers, teens still text and talk while driving.

How rampant is teen cellphone use behind the wheel? A recent government survey shows that more than half of high school seniors use cellphones while driving. More specifically, the survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 58 percent of high school seniors text or email while driving, and more than 40 percent of high school juniors do the same.

Distracted driving causes serious car accidents. In Pennsylvania, there were nearly 14,000 crashes that involved distracted driving in 2010, killing 68 people. Teen drivers are among the most likely to be involved in car accidents caused by distracted driving, in part because teen drivers lack the experience of older drivers in handling difficult conditions, such as inclement weather. The risk of accident is even greater for teen drivers when cellphones are thrown into the mix. The risk is so great that distracted driving deaths are most common among teens and account for 16 percent of teen car accident fatalities.

Many teens are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, such as those who recently participated in a distracted driving simulator at an American Idol concert in Pittsburgh. Yet, teenage drivers continue to text, talk over cellphones and drive. One expert interviewed by the Associated Press believes cellphone use is ingrained in teen culture. An average teen sends and receives around 100 texts per day, and the example helps illustrate how texting has become the most common way teens communicate today.

Texting while driving and distracted driving take a driver's eyes off the road, hands from the wheel, and mind from the primary task of driving. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving, contact an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance towards recovery.