A 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the fact that texting while driving is a major problem for teenagers. Of 15,000 high school students involved in the survey, about one in three admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel in the month leading up to the survey.
For older teenagers, the rate jumped to over 50 percent, suggesting that a majority of college-aged drivers text while driving. The data is a concerning warning sign in an otherwise optimistic report which determined that more teenagers are wearing seatbelts and fewer are drinking and driving.
Dangers of Texting While Driving
The dangers of using handheld electronic devices while driving are well known. Nearly every state, including New York, has passed laws restricting the practice. Most laws include financial penalties for those caught by law enforcement. Many states target teenagers specifically, forbidding them from using cell phones for any reason while operating a motor vehicle.
Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers, with over 3,000 fatalities attributed to motor vehicle accidents in 2010, according to the CDC. Many of these deaths were attributed specifically to distracted driver accidents.
Liability and Jail Time
The most recent development for those who cause accidents due to texting and driving is the threat of personal liability and even jail time. In one state, a teenager was recently convicted and sentenced to a year in prison following a fatal car accident caused by texting and driving.
Legal experts and attorneys are also seeing more civil cases involving texting while driving. If a driver is distracted by their cell phone and causes a car accident that injures another person or damages property, the driver may become the defendant in a civil lawsuit by the injured party. If a judge or jury agrees that the driver was negligent, they may be liable for all of the financial consequences of the accident. This outcome is more likely if the driver was violating a state law by using the device.
If you or a family member is involved in a distracted driving accident in New York, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.