Distracted Teen Driver Accidents
Every human being is is not living under a rock is now aware of the dangers of distracted driving. IN 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver-many more than those killed by drunk drivers. In 2014 we are setting the course for close to the half million mark for injuries caused by distracted driving and an increase in wrongful deaths.
Despite the overwhelming data, most people surveyed admit it is difficult to avoid using a smartphone while driving and judging from our own road survey, it is difficult to find any driver in rush hour traffic whose face is not lit by the light of a smartphone.
So what technology hath wrought be solved by technology itself? A myriad of companies have developed products that prohibit or limit a driver’s ability to use a phone while driving, marketing their products to parent’s desperate to keep their teens safe on the road. But is the answer? Many feel that this is akin to keeping your child in a bubble at the expense of teaching them survival skills in the outside world. In other words, is technology ignoring the underlying problem?
Bryan Reimer, Ph.D.,research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and the associate director of the New England University Transportation Center at MIT has found that people prone to texting while driving fall into a larger category: high risk drivers. He has found that if you take away their phones they will find a substitute, whether it be changing radio stations, rummaging in their bags or checking their appearance in the mirror.
To address these drivers lies with feedback-oriented tools that examine overall driving performance, which includes cell phone use but other behaviors as well. He finds that products such as the DriveCam, an in car camera and related technology that alert drivers when they engage in hazardous behavior can provide parents with weekly data, including a driving score and visual clip of any risky behavior.
Grazian and Volpe applauds any efforts to increase road safety and prevent motor vehicle injuries and fatalities. This is a rich subject with a number of viewpoints as to solution. We will be exploring these in posts to come. Please stay tuned!
It is now common knowledge that driving while texting or driving is the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents. There is not a parent of driving age teens who has not warned their teen to avoid texting or talking on cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, there seems to be many parents not following their own advice and that may be a good reason why the use of cellphone devices during driving remains on the rise.
Here’s another reason parent’s have to be guilty- a recent survey indicates that distracted teen driving may be partly Mom or Dad’s fault! Researchers at Parallel Consulting and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have found that over half of the teens gabbing on cellphones while driving are on the line with a parent. The surveyed teens said that parents get mad if they don’t pick up their calls and that their parents also drive while using the phone.
The attorneys at Grazian and Volpe have found our motor vehicle collision and accident caseload growing each year. We have also found that most car and truck accidents involve a party who was operating a cell phone and distracted from effectively observing traffic. Most of these cases involve adults traveling alone or sadly, with children. It was no surprise to read the results of this survey.
We suggest that parents refrain, as an example from using a cellphone when driving, period, but most importantly in the presence of children. Secondly, parents should also set rules for answering the phone while driving. Tell teens that it is appropriate and acceptable to respond to a call from their parents after they have reached their destination. If a long car trip is in progress, teens should be told to wait until a rest stop. Optimally, a teen should text a parent before setting upon a car trip to tell the parent they will be unreachable for a period of time. I tell my girls to let me know when they are starting on their way and the expected ETA. I try not to panic is they don’t call exactly on time and to give a bit of space. Of course, every parent knows that will not be always effective. However, setting an example and setting some rules will go a long way to keeping your child safe on the road.
The family of a 15-year-od boy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a man who, while texting and driving, struck and killed the boy while the victim and a friend were walking on the shoulder of a street. The man’s vehicle left the road and struck the victim who died the next day in the hospital.
The man has a long history of traffic violation and has been charged in criminal offense, automobile homicide involving the use of a hand-held wireless communication device while driving which is a felony.
Utah, where the accident occurred had just passed an amendment to its’ texting-while-driving law making it illegal to be doing anything on a hand-held wireless communication device except making or receiving a call, or using GPS navigation. Before the amendment, the driver had to be sending a text at the instant the accident occurred. Merely looking at a text or screen of a cell phone was not illegal.
Grazian and Volpe applauds the broadening of Utah’s texting-while-driving laws. As we have pointed out in numerous article texting-while-driving causes more accidents that driving and drinking. We cannot be too tough on this practice.
It is always better to stay safe and avoid accidents – but if you can’t stay safe – stay with Grazian and Volpe – Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.
Chicagoland’s Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe strive constantly to educate their clients as to the dangers of distracted driving. Child safety experts now cite the rising number of non-fatal injuries to children under age five between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade.
The question is whether high-tech gadgetry is effecting the ability of adults to provide proper supervision to young children. Emergency doctors see the growing use of hand-held electronic devices as a plausible explanation for the surprising reversal of a long slide in injury rates for young children.
Child safety experts attribute the previous slide in injury rates starting in the 1970s to the implementation of safer playgrounds to baby gates to fences around swimming pools. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “The injuries were going down and down and down” noting that the recent uptick is “pretty striking.”
Statistics from the government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission, which tracks injuries by product type, show children are getting hurt more, including serious falls, during activities and at ages that would warrant close supervision.
While casualty has not been well documented, emergency room doctors cite the well-proven connection between driving while distracted and the rise in smartphone use. They state it is logical and born out by statistics to apply the same dynamic to parenting and smartphone use. Complicating the picture is that people tend to under-report the amount of time they spend on mobile devices. Barbara Morrongiello, a psychology professor at the the University of Guelph in Canada studies the relationship between child-supervision and injury and states that most people do not realize how much they are distracted by devices.
In fact a recent incident wherein a woman was watching a friend’s two-year-old son when another friend texted her illustrates the point perfectly. The child slipped into the pool, flailed for about a minute, drifted toward the deep end, then sank. The woman was looking at a photo on a smartphone. About three minutes after fiddling with the cellphone, she dropped it and then noticed the young boy underwater. She plunged in and pulled him out. The whole event was documented on a security camera. The woman told an emergency technician that she had taken her eyes off the boy for only 20 seconds. The security-camera footage shows she did not look at the boy for more than 3 minutes!
Ms. Morrongiello says that information she has collected from 62 families with two-year-old children revealed that 67% of injuries occurred when a parent wasn’t supervising and only 10% occurred when a parent was watching.
Grazian and Volpe blog about this subject in the hope that all parents and caregivers will pay heed to this recent spate of evidence and try to avoid mobile device use whenever caring for young children or any person entrusted to their care. It is always better to stay safe, but if you can’t stay safe-Stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicagolands Injury Lawyers for over 30 years.
The accident lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have advocated for over 25 on behalf of motorcyclists and the victims of crashes due to dangerous riders. It is important that the public discern between the two classes. We have written extensively about the difficulties in representing motorcyclists due to the public’s perception of riders as a riskier and reckless set of motor vehicle operators. We have also been careful to advise on litigation techniques for dispelling this perception. Most importantly, juries and the public need be made aware that the vast number of riders are middle-aged pre-retirement and post-retirement men and women enjoying a cheaper and more enjoyable form of touring the country.
Today’s article in the Chicago Tribune detailed an announcement by state and local police of the implementation of “Operation Rogue Rider” which targets motorcyclists who ride dangerously on the Edens Expressway through Skokie and Lincolnwood.
Officials state that they are called nightly to respond to reports of rogue riders who speed, race, ride on shoulders or improperly change lanes. The Illinois State Police will be assisted by local police during this summer long operation, using roving saturation patrols mostly during the evening and late nights.
The article reports an 85 percent increase in fatalities and a 75 percent increase in personal injuries in the first 6 month of 2012 due to motorcycle-related crashes. This amounts to 13 fatalities and 7 personal injuries during the six month period from January through June.
Chicagoland’s Injury Attorneys at Grazian and Volpe applaud and and all efforts to keep our highways and roadways safer. However, the public needs to be reminded that distracted driving involving texting, calling or eating represents the largest threat to safety on our roads. Please remember, that most motorcyclists practice safe and conservate driving methods and should not be prejudiced by the few riders who do not.
Please refer to our articles on this website discussing “Distracted Driving” and “Motorcycle Accidents” and watch John Grazian on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning on the third Tuesday of each month where he discusses current legal and injury issues with members of the viewing public. If you miss a program, they are published on the myaccidentlaw.com and WCUI websites.
The 2011 annual federal survey about risky teenage behaviors showed several areas of significant improvement in dangerous driving practices, but texting or e-mailing while driving is a huge exception.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC, released the findings from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, or YRBS. While the survey targets many areas of high risk behavior, car accidents are an important focus because they are the most common cause of U.S. teen death. According to the CDC, more than one-third of teen deaths are from motor-vehicle crashes.
The 2011 survey shows, in particular, that about one-third of high school students responding admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving in the past 30 days. This was the first year the agency had included this question, not surprising considering the recent explosion in this type of electronic communication among young people.
Typing on a cell phone while driving takes eyes, hands, and concentration away from the primary task of driving safely, putting the driver, other passengers, other vehicles, pedestrians, bikers and motorcyclists all at high risk of an accident.
On a more positive note, some risky driving behaviors have improved. For example, more teens wear seat belts, fewer kids get in the car if the driver has been drinking alcohol and fewer drive drunk.
Source: Reuters, “One-third of US teens report texting while driving-CDC,” David Beasley, June 8, 2012
Grazian and Volpe has been advocating for the victims of distracted driving in Chicago and South Chicago for over 27 years. We have noted the marked annual increase in the incidents of motor vehicle fatalities and serious personal injury caused by car accidents in which the driver has been distracted whether through cell phone use, eating or drinking while driving, texting, adjusting the radio or grooming or putting on make-up while driving. Recent studies have shown that the vast majority of all drivers recognize that driving while distracted is dangerous and are not surprised when told that distracted driving is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths due to motor vehicle accidents and close to 450,000 motor vehicle accidents involving personal injuries.
The uptrend in car accidents due to distracted driving is in direct correlation with rapid rate with which phone applications and technology are expanding.
In June of 2011, 196,000 million text messages were sent and received in the USA which represented a 50% increase over the previous year. A Virginia Tech study of the same year found that a driver is 23 times more likely to crash if driving while texting; and a serious or fatal accident is four times more likely to occur.
Despite these frightening statistics, an on-line survey of 2000 teens between 16 and 19 years found that 86% had driven while distracted even though 84% know that it dangerous and 89% recognize that the behavior reduces reaction time.(2010 AAA and Seventeen Magazine: Ad Council, 2011)
To make matters horrifying, 77% of young adults surveyed stated that they are very confident that they can safely text while driving despite their knowledge of its dangers! (Ad Council, 2011)
Car accidents caused by the distracted driver have been a sad and constant source of client advocacy for the Chicago Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe. In our thirty years of practice we have witnessed the rapid annual escalation of car accidents and injuries and fatalities due to cellphone use and other forms of distracted driving.
We would like to help end this trend and are advising our viewing public at WCIU, You and Me in the Morning and all are clients, friends and family that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a month dedicated to making the public aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Parents trying to educate themselves and their children as to the dangers of distracted driving can visit several webites dedicated to this issue. endDD.org is a non-profit organization founded by a father after his daughter was killed as a pedestrian by a distracted driver and, NODD.org whose goal is to raise the awareness of teen distracted driving. Each organization gives presentations to teens across the country. Readers can visit 60forsafety.org to see request a presentation for your school or organization or to find where or when one is being given in your area.
The Chicago Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe would like to see an end to the tragic and unnecessary consequences of distracted driving and know that prevention starts with education. Please visit our blogsite at myaccidentlaw.com or watch John Grazian on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning for more information and tips on how you can help in this fight.
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers are becoming very rich from the increasing number of car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Cell phones are the leading cause of truck accidents and car accidents and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that banning cell phone use while driving has lead to marked decrease in car accidents in the states where texting and phone bans have been enacted. The GHSA report also states that hands-free phones are no less dangerous than handheld phones.
Currently, nine states prohibit all drivers from using handheld phones while driving from using handheld phones while driving, while 34 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. However, no state has banned all cellphone use for all drivers.
Distracted driving is much broader than cellphone use and includes any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the road (see myaccidentlaw.com/blog Teen-age Drivers; Distracted Drivers; The Distracted Truck Driver; Crullers, Coffee and Car Accidents). Oklahoma Law Journal reports that distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause a motor vehicle accident compared with drunk drivers who are seven times as likely to cause a car accident. Wow! In 2009, 16% of the 33,308 car accident fatalities were caused by a distracted driver and research suggests that up to 80 percent of driver fatalities may bne attributable to driver distraction.
Your Chicago Car Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe want to offer the following tips to prevent distracted driving and help keep everyone on the road safer.
- Secure your pets
- turn off your phone before turning on your car-better yet program an a message stating that you are practicing safe driving by turning your phone off -spread the word to others! At least pull over and park before answering a call.
- Don’t argue with others and tell the children fighting is punishable, potentially by death, if their arguing leads to your distraction
- Know where your going before you put the car into drive-program the GPS while parked.
- Be French and never eat unless you are at a table or at least parked-it will probably save you some calories, as well!
Remember it is always better to stay safe, bnut if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe. Keep myaccidentlaw.com as a bookmark and our toll free number in your cellphone in the event you can’t avoid the distracted driver at 1 800 866-494-HURT.
We have been writing exhaustively on the perils of the distracted teen driver, or any distracted driver for that matter (see myaccidentlaw.com/blog keywords, truck accidents, car accidents). The rise in serious and sometimes fatal car accidents and truck accidents can be directly attributed to the increase in drivers driving while distracted-whether by cell phones, texting, eating, or simply changing a radio station or putting on make-up. While state and federal authorities continue in their efforts to legislate against distracted driving-we as parents know the truth about teen-agers: they rarely listen to us or anybody older then them.
The Accident Attorneys at Grazian and Volpe have had the very sad task of litigating on behalf of families and victims of serious motor vehicle accidents – no case more tragic than when a child suffers a serious injury or wrongful death. Parents can never do enough to educate their teen-aged drivers as to driving safely. In addition, we hope the following helps in choosing and purchasing a car that will offer the best in crash avoidance and protection.
Look for the following when shopping for and choosing a car for your teen-ager or any family member:
- Blind Spot Detection; devices that monitor the existence if a driver in an area not visible to the mirrors on the vehicle and;
- Stability Control and ABS: Stability control is an essential feature for trucks and SUVs that have an increased rollover risk,
- Night Vision helps drivers see people or animals in the distance at night. Country drivers know the perils of deer in the headlights. Night Vision devices facilitates earlier detection of these collision risks.
- Automatic Crash Notification: a system that will automatically notify authorities if your vehicle is involved in a collision
- Electronic Steering Control (ESC), Traction Control and AWD: This is a must in Chicago or any area where significant snowfall and rain occurs. These features can improve traction on and off road.
- Curve Control System (CCS): For the speed demon teen who loves to take corners too quickly-this feature will sense when a curve is being entered too quickly and will automatically slow the vehicle speed by reducing engine power and applying brakes to all tires.
- Roll Stability Control: Moms and their teens all love SUVs which stand tall and have a high center of gravity whic carry a risk of rollover in extreme cornering or evasive turning. This feature uses a gyroscopic sensor and the ECS system (see above) to brake one or more tires and reduce the engine power.
We hope these tips help you keep your teens and whole family safe and protected on the road.
Remember that it is always better to avoid an accident, but if you can’t, remember Grazian and Volpe, your Chicago Accident Lawyers for over 25 years.
Please visit our website for more blog articles on preventing and litigating personal injuries and workplace accidents. Watch for John Grazian on the first Tuesday of every month on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning where he takes your questions on all areas of accident, medical abuse, workplace injury and premises liability law.