Many states, including Maryland, have laws prohibiting texting and using a handheld cell phone while driving. But the problems of distracted driving, which killed over 200 people in Maryland in 2011, go beyond the use of electronic devices, especially for teens. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security, 27 percent of teens reported that they sometimes change their clothes and shoes while driving. Other behind-the-wheel activities included changing contact lenses, doing homework or putting on makeup.
Although 40 percent of teens in the study also admitted to texting while driving, this figure is lower than in previous studies, suggesting that texting awareness campaigns may be working. The study asked teens to provide information about their driving habits and then to participate in a driver’s education class that simulated the risks and difficulties of multitasking behind the wheel. After taking the short class, students were somewhat better at recognizing the risks of distracted driving, suggesting that classroom interventions may be helpful in addressing this problem. Other studies show that parents also play an important role in encouraging teen driving safety.
Study researchers emphasized that texting is only one of the distractions drivers face. Teens especially are unaware of the risks posed by eating, changing radio channels, adjusting a GPS setting or even having a conversation with a passenger. Any activity that requires a driver to look away from the road ahead is dangerous.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents nationwide, and in Maryland alone, tens of thousands of injuries happen each year as a result of such accidents. A victim of a car accident caused by a distracted driver is entitled to compensation for medical costs and suffering. An attorney can save victims the hassle of dealing with insurance companies and help them get maximum benefits for their injuries or losses.