Distracted driving has been a growing problem in South Carolina and throughout the country in recent years. While motorists have always had distractions, the increased use of smartphones to stay connected has become a temptation that is difficult for many drivers to resist.
Distracted driving is particularly common among teens, who are the most tech-savvy age group, and the most avid users of electronic devices. The widespread use of smartphones among the most inexperienced group of drivers can be a deadly combination.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Each year, thousands of individuals are killed, and hundreds of thousands are injured in distracted-driving related vehicle crashes. And according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately half a million drivers throughout the country are using their cell phones at any given time during daylight hours. The NHTSA goes on to say that teens are the largest group reported as distracted at the time fatal vehicle crashes occur.
Here are some other disturbing statistics about teen drivers and distractions:
- More than half of all teens admit to having used a cell phone while driving, and one out of four admit to having texted while driving during the past 30 days;
- Car crashes are now the number one killer of teens in United States;
- Individuals ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other age group;
- Almost 60% of all motor vehicle crashes among teens are now the result of distracted driving.
What Can be Done about Teen Drivers and Distractions?
Many state laws have been passed in recent years to help address the problem of distracted driving. Like most other states, texting while driving is against the law in South Carolina. Lawmakers in the Palmetto State have discussed going further and enacting a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving, making cell phone use legal only when it is in “hands free” mode. Many other states have already enacted similar laws, with some states choosing to ban hand-held cell phone use for teens only.
As the law tries to catch up with evolving technology, it is also incumbent upon parents to help ensure that their teens are driving safely. Here are some steps parents can take to help prevent distracted driving among their teens:
- Educate them: Distracted-driving will no doubt be covered during your teen’s driver safety courses, but parents should also reinforce the importance of refraining from this type of behavior while behind the wheel. Have an honest conversation with your teen about the dangers of distracted driving, and how they can minimize these distractions and stay focused on the road.
- Prohibit other teen passengers while your teen is driving: This is a tough one that your teen will almost certainly protest. Teens love to drive around with their friends in the car, but this can be just as dangerous a distraction as texting while behind the wheel. Shouting, cranking up the radio, horseplay, and other types of rowdy behavior greatly increase the risk of a vehicle crash. This is why it is best to prohibit your teen from having other teen passengers or from riding as a passenger with another new teen driver.
- Sign a written agreement with your teen: Create a contract between you and your teen that contains written ground rules they must follow when they are driving. By having something in writing and signed by your teen, your teen will have clear guidelines they must follow to be safe, and they cannot claim ignorance later on if you have to revoke their driving privileges for breaking the contract.
- Install apps to prevent cell phone use while driving: Although technology has helped increase the problem of distracted driving, technology is also helping to solve it. There are now several apps available which can do things like block texts and phone calls (except for emergency calls) while driving, block other distracting apps (such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) while driving, allow parents to track their teen’s location, and analyze their teen’s driving habits. Consider using one or more of these apps to help prevent your teen from being distracted while behind the wheel.
- Set a good example for your teen: Finally, keep in mind that kids tend to model the behavior of their parents. So, be sure to refrain from texting while driving and other dangerous driving activities yourself.
Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact a Skilled Auto Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you was injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver (teen or otherwise), you may have a right to compensation. Before dealing with any insurance adjusters, it is best to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options. At Peake & Fowler, we have successfully represented numerous clients injured in motor vehicle accidents in South Carolina, and we fight hard to help our clients obtain the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.
For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our web contact form.