We’ve recent shared thoughts on the deadly habit of texting while driving. Wisconsin drivers are well aware of the dangers of driving drunk, speeding and other negligent behavior. Texting is relatively a new threat. We also are aware that teenagers are often the drivers and the victims in auto accidents. It’s time to take a hard look at the combination of the two.

The American Automobile Association has released a study on distracted driving. They report that the leading cause of death for teens in this country is car crashes. While that may not be surprising, it certainly is disturbing. The conclusion in the AAA study is that distraction factors into 58 percent of moderate to severe accidents involving teenagers. Notable is that this figure is reportedly the United States government estimate of 14 percent multiplied by four.

The organization’s analysis was based on video tape that captured 1,700 teenage car accidents. The real-time video shows the youth are attached to their cellphones and often didn’t even realize what was happening – drifting, leaving the road, crossing centerlines to the left and worse, taking no evasive action. It was as if they were so lost in the distraction, they didn’t react at all according to the president of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

States are being urged to pass tougher cellphone and passenger restrictions on teenagers. Aside from the cellphone, more than one passenger in the car is also reported to be a dangerous distraction.

Many parents will face the sad reality of a teen child held responsible for causing an accident or becoming a victim because a friend was driving distracted. Other people on the road face higher risk of injury when these drivers are out and about. Liability for a wreck may rest with the distracted driver in these cases. Victims may be entitled to compensation through insurance claims or lawsuits.

A thorough accident investigation will determine if cellphone use or other distraction caused the incident. For the responsible driver, hopefully recovery will come with a lesson learned.

Source: CBS News, “AAA: Distracted driving a huge factor in teen driver crashes,” Wyatt Andrews, March. 25, 2015