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Distracted driving car accident rate on the rise

A new traffic investigatory report suggests that distracted driving is a far more serious issue amongst teen drivers than previously thought. Research suggest that distracted driving is a factor in 60 percent of mild to severe car accidents. That percentage is far higher than information from police reports would suggest. The evidence was obtained by analysis of the last 6 seconds of crash footage taken from in car vehicle event recorders.

The most common types of distractions encountered by teen car crashes were interaction with other passengers and cell phone use. Research found that drivers that who were texting, calling or other manipulation of their phones had their eyes away from the road for approximately 4 out of the 6 seconds right before a crash. Rear-end crash data analysis shows that teens using cell phones failed to use their brakes or attempted to veer out of the way more than half the time.

The legal ramifications for distracted driving are serious. The state of New York prevents all drivers from using hand-held cellphones during operation of a motor vehicle. If a driver were to be found to have used a cell phone during an accident, that fact may raise a presumption that the driver was negligent and caused the collision to occur.

The fact that there is statistical data to support that teens driving while using a cell phone are at a somewhat higher risk of causing distracted driving accidents raises another related legal issue. Negligent entrustment allows a plaintiff to sue a person not directly involved in an accident if they entrust their car to an "unfit" person. A parent with teenager they know to be easily distracted may be liable in this situation.

Source: AAA, "Distraction and Teen Crashes: Even Worse than We Thought," Michael Green, March 25, 2015

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