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Distracted Driving and Teen Crashes

distracted teen driving in Virginia

It can be challenging to react during a potential accident when driving while distracted, particularly for teenage drivers. Dangerous distractions include peer passengers, texting or talking on a mobile phone, eating, apply makeup, or changing radio stations, among others. When the brain is contemplating anything besides driving, it can make it hard to react during a potential collision, especially for inexperienced teenage motorists.

Besides sharing facts and stats on distracted driving, parents need to display safe driving behaviors by not using mobile devices (whether handheld or hands-free) while driving as well as not fiddling with the radio, applying makeup, or eating when operating a vehicle.

For newly licensed teenagers, parents should limit the number of peer passengers, which is a major accident hazard. When a teen is driving, the risk of a deadly crash more than triples where there are two or more peer passengers in the vehicle. Engaged driving is the aim, where teenage motorists remain entirely focused and attentive behind the wheel.

Key Facts about Distracted Driving

While teens recognize that speaking or texting on a mobile phone or using social media platforms when driving is dangerous, they sometimes indulge in such behaviors anyway. In 2018 alone, distracted driving caused 2,841 deaths, including 1,730 motorists, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists.

In 2017, almost 40 percent of high school students admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel during the previous month. Teenage motorists receive the most phone calls from their parents, more than general calling patterns indicate. According to a 2016 AAA study, teen car accidents occur due to distracted driving in 60 percent of cases.

Nearly 15 percent of teen car crashes occur due to speaking or attending to other passengers in the automobile, while texting, talking, or operating a mobile phone causes 12 percent of accidents. Another 11 percent of accidents occur due to attending to or looking at something within the vehicle.

Researchers also found that how teenagers use their mobile phones when driving has changed considerably throughout the study spanning eight years. In the minutes leading up to the collision, teenagers were more likely to be looking at their phone screen or texting rather than talking on the phone.

The study also found a trend indicating that social media use and texting are rising incrementally among teenage motorists. Many teenagers are using social media platforms or texting when operating a vehicle more frequently than in the past, which makes already unsafe circumstances even worse.

According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving increases the risk of a motor vehicle crash by 23 times.

Virginia Teen Accidents: Summer’s “100 Deadliest Days”

In 2015, almost 5,200 accidents in Virginia involved teenaged motorists during the 100 days of summer, as indicated by AAA Tidewater Virginia.

Injuries resulted in around 25 percent of these accidents, and 14 teenagers lost their lives in those collisions. In these teen driver accidents, another 1,808 individuals sustained injuries, and five were killed.

The AAA states that the “100 Deadliest Days” is the period commencing on Memorial Day when teen accident fatalities historically rise. In the past five years, over 5,000 people have lost their lives in accidents across the US involving teenage motorists.

While preparing for summer, AAA advises parents to educate their teenagers about the perils of distracted driving and monitor their behaviors behind the wheel. It encourages parents to:

  • Have discussions early and often on the perils of distraction
  • Develop a parent-teen driving agreement that creates family rules against distracted driving
  • Model good driving behavior and minimize distractions when behind the wheel.

Virginia Regulations against Distracted Driving

Virginia law makes it illegal to drive a vehicle on the highways in the state while reading or sending texts or emails. Besides emailing and texting, speaking on the cell phone, eating, applying makeup, playing loud music, engaging with other passengers, and trying to read GPS or a road map comprise other driving distractions.

It is prohibited in Virginia for provisional driver’s license or learner’s permit holders below the age of 18 to use any type of wireless communication device when behind the wheel, including text messaging devices and all hands-free and handheld phones.

Teenagers and young adults in your life should be made aware of driver safety, and the hazards of distracted driving.

Educate your Teen on Poor Driving Habits to Avoid

As you speak with your teen about what they should and should not do while behind the wheel, be sure they are also aware of the restrictions Virginia law places on teenage drivers:

  • Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use a cell phone or other wireless communication device while operating a vehicle.
  • Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 4 AM except under certain limited circumstances.
  • For their first year after being licensed, drivers under the age of 18 are limited to just one passenger who is a non-household member under age 18. After one year, they are allowed to carry a maximum of three such passengers.

Put your Teen Driver Under Contract

Sometimes, teens are more compliant if you put their rules in writing. Having a written contract is also good because it clarifies the rules that they are to operate under and leaves no room for excuses later on if one or more of them are violated. If you are not sure what to put into the contract, AAA has a good template that you can use.

Utilize Technology to Your Advantage

Technology has caused a lot of our recent problems with vehicle accidents, particularly because so many motorists send and read text messages while they drive. But technology also has provided some solutions to help drivers stay safe. For example, many insurance companies offer tools that can track where a vehicle is driving, the speed at which it is traveling, braking speed, and much more. This data can be given to you to monitor more closely how your teen is driving.

Injured in an Accident Involving a Texting Teen Motorist? Consult Us Today

Cell phone use when operating a vehicle has become a national problem, one that significantly increases the possibility of being involved in a distracted driver-related car crash. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of an adult or a teenage driver, the seasoned attorneys at the law offices of Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz can help you collect the compensation that you rightfully deserve for your losses. For a detailed, no-obligation case review, call today at (434) 977-7977.  

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