When you picture an individual staring down at a cellphone, the face behind the phone is likely that of a teen. A Pew Research Center report from 2013 showed that 74 percent of teens access the internet using a mobile device such as a cellphone. As the study was published three years ago, it is safe to assume those numbers may be even higher today.
It would seem to make sense then that when it comes to distracted driving, teens pose the biggest threat ─ and are at the biggest risk ─ to others on the road. The following considers some shocking statistics on texting while driving and highlights the fact that adults are a big part of the problem, too.
Texting and driving, and distracted driving in general, are serious problems in Colorado and throughout the United States. In March 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation revealed that there were 15,307 distracted driving crashes reported in the state in 2015, a 16 percent increase over a four-year period. Preliminary data also suggests that 69 people were killed in Colorado in distracted driving crashes in 2015.
On a national level, the official U.S. government website on distracted driving ─ Distraction.gov ─ states that 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2014.
A significant number of crashes involve drivers who are distracted by their cellphones, and too many people, adults and teens alike, continue to use their phones when behind the wheel. In fact, the Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT) found that the most common distractions in the crashes were cellphones.
A survey conducted by the Colorado DOT also revealed that 25 percent of Colorado drivers admit to using their cellphone while driving, and 63 percent admitted to using “entertainment devices” while operating a motor vehicle.
“At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices while driving,” Distraction.gov reports.
There is no doubt that distracted driving ─ specifically, using a cellphone while driving ─ is a big problem in America and leads to thousands of accidents each year. So who is to blame? Are teens or adults the ones most responsible for these accidents?
The answer: Both. As cellphones become more ubiquitous, teenagers and adults alike are guilty of distraction from behind the wheel.
The results of a survey published in USA Today show that while 98 percent of adults said that they know that texting or emailing while driving is unsafe, 49 percent admit to doing exactly that. According to the same survey, this is in comparison to 43 percent of teens who say that they text while driving.
Although more adults may admit to using their cellphones, the phone may be a bigger distraction for teens, as it is this demographic that is more likely to be involved in a distracted driving-related crash. The Colorado DOT states that of the estimated 57,298 distracted drivers involved in crashes in Colorado between 2012 and 2015, 30 percent were between 21 and 30 years old. Distraction.gov, citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that people in their 20s make up 23 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes, but they make up 27 percent of all distracted drivers and 38 percent of the distracted drivers who were using cellphones at the time of a fatal crash.
Cellphones are here to stay, and there is little that can be done to convince an individual, teen or adult, that texting and handheld internet access isn’t cool. That being said, distracted driving awareness and prevention should be a focus, and more parents should talk to their teens about the dangers of using cellphones when behind the wheel. Furthermore, adults should also model safe driving behavior, putting their own phones away when operating a motor vehicle.
In addition to reminding drivers of the safety consequences of texting while driving, it is important to have a conversation with your teen about the legal ramifications. In 2009, lawmakers in Colorado passed a measure that bans texting while driving. Certain cities within Colorado have taken further measures to penalize distracted driving in general. For example, an article in HandsFreeInfo.com shares that the city council of Greeley, Colorado, has passed a distracted driving ordinance that fines drivers who are found to be distracted between $60 and $100.
If you are the victim of a car accident that would not have occurred but for the actions of a distracted driver, it is important that you take action to protect your rights. Texting while driving is against the law and is considered to be negligent behavior. When it leads to a crash, victims have the right to seek compensation for their injuries. Compensation may include financial reparations for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you need to speak with an experienced attorney. At The Sawaya Law Firm, our dedicated Colorado car accident attorneys, with offices in Denver and Greeley, know how to dig deep to collect the right evidence to build your case for maximum compensation.
If you are ready to take the first steps toward protecting your future, schedule a free case consultation with our experienced legal team now. Contact us today by calling our offices or filling out our online form.