How can teenagers be protected from dangerous driving distractions? Are there things parents can do to protect their children when they're old enough to take the keys? The reality is that there is an epidemic of distracted driving on American roads. Cell phones, radios, GPS systems, billboards, and many other distractions can pose a deadly threat to teen drivers and parents are the first line of defense in protecting them from these dangers.
The US Department of Transportation estimates that approximately nine people die each day in distracted driving accidents. Driving distractions are responsible for roughly 10% of all fatality accidents and 15% of injury accidents. In 2015, 3,477 people died and a further 391,000 were injured by distracted drivers. Among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19, 9% who died were distracted at the time of the accident. This is greater proportion than any other single age demographic and is the leading cause of death for teenagers.
Cell phones were a leading cause of distracted driving fatalities in 2015. They were responsible for causing 442 accidents that accounted for 14% of fatalities. Teenagers who are texting, talking, viewing social media, and watching videos simply aren't paying attention to the road while they drive. At Brad Pistotnik Law we see a high level of car accidents, truck and semi accidents and motorcycle accidents being caused by cell phone usage, texting, using maps on the cell phone or dashboard and we believe there is a growing trend of negligent drivers who are distracted due to cell phones and map usage.
Parents can help protect their teens from the dangers of distracted driving . The best way to do this is to teach them about and reinforce safe driving habits. This includes teaching them about the various laws regarding cell phone use while driving. In Kansas, teenagers with learner's permits or intermediate permits are prohibited from using cell phones or hands-free devices while driving. This is a primary law in Kansas and police officers can issue citations even when no other violation is present.
Discussing manual, cognitive, and visual distractions is essential. These potential distractions include radio usage, conversations with friends, "daydreaming," eating, drinking, reaching for objects, roadside distractions, etc. In addition to discussing these dangers with teenagers, it is important for parents to model the driving behaviors they want their teenager to adhere to. Teaching by example is the most effective method of instruction. Teenagers who witness their parents observing the same rules and driving habits are more likely to adopt and adhere to them. This will also help keep you safe from the dangers of distracted driving as you drive down the road.
Finally, parents should discuss the consequences that driving distractions, failing to obey speed limits, and other unsafe driving behaviors can cause. These include the easy to understand risk of injury or death, as well as more complex concepts including the cost of damaged property, increased insurance rates, and the potential for civil and criminal liability if the teenager causes an injury or fatality causing automobile accident. When teens continue to disregard their parents driving rules and requirements regarding distracted driving behaviors, the safest and most effective method of keeping them safe is to curtail their driving privileges.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients in Garden City, Liberal, Dodge City, Guymon, Kearney, Colby, Hays, Goodland, Kansas City, and other cities in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois that are injured in distracted driving accidents. We can help parents protect their children from the dangers of driving distractions and pursue compensation when distracted drivers cause injuries and wrongful deaths.
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