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How bad is the problem with distracted teens and car accidents?

Most North Carolina motorists are already aware that distracted drivers increase the chances of auto accidents. What many people fail to realize is just how big a problem distraction while driving can be for younger drivers with little experience.

A new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has shed some light on this potential risk to public safety. The study used vehicle-mounted event recorders to obtain almost 1,700 videos of teens driving six seconds before becoming involved in accidents. Perhaps the most shocking find of the study was that the results identified driver distraction as a factor in almost six out of every 10 moderate to severe crashes that involved a teenage driver behind the wheel. In fact, 58 percent of all the crashes examined in the study identified distraction as a key component.

What makes this study so alarming is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had wildly underestimated the prevalence of distracted driving among teen drivers. NHTSA had previously assumed that only about 14 percent of accidents involving teenage drivers would contain elements of distracted driving.

Amazingly, distracted driving has now eclipsed alcohol and drug impairment as the number one cause of traffic accidents. The footage obtained by the AAA cameras indicated that distractions involving electronic devices accounted for almost 25 percent of the time that teenagers were in operation of their vehicles. Other distractions include interacting with other passengers, looking at things inside of the vehicle and singing or moving to music.

There are a few things you should know if you have been a victim of a distracted teen driver. North Carolina statutes allow victims to sue negligent drivers for compensation of their medical costs and lost wages. Your personal injury attorney can assist you with determining whether distracted driving may have played a central role in your car accident. If so, you may be entitled to seek damages based on the injuries you suffered as a result of those actions.

Source: Technology Tell, "Teen distracted driving and auto crashes worse than expected," Charles Moore, April. 05, 2015

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