Most people these days are aware of the dangers of drunk driving – the increased risk for accidents, the severe legal penalties, the possibly fatal consequences. Perhaps this increased awareness is why the prevalence of drunk driving has decreased significantly among teens over the last several decades.
What people seem to be less aware of is the danger of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving. These days, texting while driving causes many more accidents than drunk driving. When you text and drive, you are 23 times more likely to get into an accident because you end up veering out of your lane for 10% of your trip.
Our car accident lawyers want you and your family to stay safe on the road, so we’ve compiled this information about texting and driving to hopefully help shed some light on this very important topic.
Distracted Driving Compared to Drunk Driving
In 2017, 2,700 teenagers died as the result of drunk driving accidents. As tragic as that number is, over 10,000 teens lost their lives during a texting and driving incident in the same year. In fact, over half the car crashes in 2017 involved cell phones. The numbers are clear: texting and driving is a bigger problem than drinking and driving.
Unfortunately, many teens are unaware of this difference. Most teens think that drunk driving could be fatal, while only 35% realize that texting while driving has similar risks. This lack of awareness, along with increased cell phone use among teens, could explain why teens are the group most likely to get into a distracted driving accident.
There are a few possible explanations for these differences. Most people are aware of the severe legal consequences for drunk driving. Every state has intoxicated driving laws in place, accompanied by severe punishments, including hefty fines and jail time. On the other hand, distracted driving laws are much looser and come with less severe consequences, which can make drivers think it is a less serious offense.
Furthermore, programs like D.A.R.E. have been educating children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs since the 1980s. There is no similarly influential program about the dangers of texting while driving yet, which could contribute to the lack of awareness of the dangers of texting behind the wheel.
That said, distracted driving and drunk driving are not entirely unrelated. Teens who text and drive are more likely to drink and drive as well. They are also less likely to wear seatbelts.
Tips to Prevent Teens from Driving While Distracted
As you can see, one of the most significant contributors to the prevalence of texting while driving is a lack of awareness. Share these statistics with your teens to let them know how dangerous distracted driving can be. You can talk to them about texting while driving in the same way you talk to them about driving while intoxicated.
You and your teen can also agree to a driver’s contract, which outlines the rules your teen has agreed to follow while on the road, including the use of cell phones and other technology. Signing something like this can signal to your teen how serious you are about limiting distractions behind the wheel.
Get Help Now
Of course, even the safest drivers can sometimes find themselves in a serious accident that was caused by another driver. If this happens to you or your teen, the St. Louis car accident lawyers at Sansone & Lauber are here to help. Give us a call or contact us online to discuss your legal options if you’ve been hurt by someone who was texting behind the wheel.