Texting While Driving is Now Leading Cause of Death in Teens

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Have you ever texted while driving? Tell the truth! It’s easy to do if you think to yourself, “just this once …” But, resist temptation! This is a huge, and very serious problem, especially for teenage drivers in Pinellas County and elsewhere, due to their lack of driving experience and endless occupation with all things electronic. The ability to have constant communication is great. One place that ability needs to be put on hold is while driving. It can wait.

Teen texting while driving on Florida highway

2014 Texting While Driving Statistics

Auto Safety news reports that “Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death among teenagers …” citing a study by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center. This finding says texting while driving surpasses fatalities caused by drinking and driving. In addition, the article states that studies performed by Virginia Tech indicate drivers are “… 23 times more likely to be in an accident if they are texting while driving.” Both of these activities (drinking and texting) can be stopped using a little commonsense; these accidents don’t need to occur. If they do, however, you will most likely need to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney.

The Law in Florida

Florida enacted a law banning texting while driving at the end of 2013, according to Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times. A citation for texting while driving is $30. It is recognized as a “secondary offense”; therefore, drivers must commit another offense (running a red light, etc.) before they can be stopped and cited for texting while driving. This means that few citations are being given, far fewer than needed to make an impression on drivers, especially younger drivers. Articles in the Tampa Bay Times go so far as to call the law a joke and “toothless.” However, the consequences of committing this offense are far from being funny. Florida is one of five states where the offense itself is not enough to get pulled over. Pinellas and Hillsborough issued less than 50 citations in the first eight months the law was in effect. In Hernando County, since enactment of the law through May 31, only six tickets were issued. Legislators are trying to put more teeth into a future version of the law in order to get it to sink in more.

Why Do People Still Text and Drive?

One teen, who had just turned 17, got into a car accident in Florida one week before the new law took effect. What did he have to say about the motivation to text while driving? It’s addictive. Addictive; so are alcohol and drugs. Ninety-seven percent of teens, according to the article in the Tampa Bay Times, say they know texting and driving is dangerous; yet, 43 percent still admit to doing it. The article also states that “… 660,000 people are … fiddling with other electronics while driving” in America every day. “In 2011, 1.3 million crashes involved cellphone use” in some form or other the article goes on to state. Those are daunting statistics to remember while driving in Saint Petersburg and elsewhere while driving.

Are Laws Enough to Stop Teens and Adults from Texting While Driving?

According to an article on the website of the American Council on Science and Health, referring to the above-mentioned study from the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Hyde Park, New York, and referencing findings from the CDC, the statistics for driving while intoxicated “ … decreased by 54 percent since 1991.” The increase in texting while driving is attributed to advances in technology. Common sense, however, needs to be a passenger. Of the more than 8,900 participants surveyed in the study, 49 percent of males between 15 and 18 years of age admitted to texting while driving; that number was 45 percent for females.

Are the laws currently in place strong enough? It seems not. While lawmakers struggle to make harsher laws, education about the dangers of texting while driving must be continually reinforced to try to prevent as many unnecessary accidents as possible. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, then you can request a free initial consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys in Pinellas Park.