Distracted driving has grown as a fatal danger on the nation's roads. By impairing a driver's performance and slowing down reaction times, it is a major cause of car accidents. In fact, a survey of high school students in 35 states indicated that 38 percent of teenage drivers engaged in texting or emailing at least once when they drove, according to a recent report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The frequency of distracted driving among teenagers ranged from 26 percent in Maryland to 64 percent in South Dakota. Indiana fell roughly in the middle of the states with a 44 percent frequency. The survey involved 101,397 students over 14 years old who drove within the last 30 days.
A higher prevalence of distracted driving occurred in states with lower ages for driving learner's permits, according to the survey. These states were generally more rural. For example, South Dakota was ranked the highest at 64 percent.
The survey also found that 16 percent of the respondents used their electronic devices within 10 days. Drivers who engaged in other risky driving such as speeding, not using seatbelts and driving while impaired were more likely to email or text. For example, students who admitted to drinking and driving were twice as likely to have engaged in texting or emailing while driving.
The likelihood of using electronic devices also increased as the teenagers got older. Drivers who were at least 18 were 56 percent more likely to engage in this activity.
Researchers have also explored teenager's perceptions about this behavior. One study found that teenagers had concerns about abstaining from cell phone use while they were driving. These included concerns over navigation, the inability to provide information about their location and arrival time and their parents not being able to contact them when necessary. The driving habits of parents and their parents also influenced their behavior.
Proving that another driver was e-mailing, or texting is difficult. An attorney can help victims of an auto accident caused by a distracted driver obtain evidence and seek compensation.