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Distracted Driving a Particular Problem for Teens, Study Shows

Just in time for Distracted Driving Month 2012, real-world evidence of which drivers are most likely to take their eyes and minds off the road, and why, has been published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Video footage shot in vehicles owned by 50 families who volunteered for a study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center over several months showed that female drivers younger than 18 were the most likely to use cell phones and smartphones to talk or text behind the wheel. Teenaged boys also often got distracted while driving, many times turning their heads or bodies to speak or interact with passengers.

Adult drivers were also caught on camera doing much more than focusing on traffic signals, other vehicles and road conditions. Distractions noted by researchers included adjusting controls, eating, drinking, putting on makeup and doing personal hygiene, reading, and reaching for objects. Video cameras began recording when a driver swerved sharply, slammed on the brakes or otherwise caused their car, truck or SUV to experience higher G-forces than usual.

Distractions and sudden corrections did not equate directly to accidents for drivers participating in the study, but it is undeniable that allowing one's focus to wander from operating a vehicle safely is a leading cause of crashes that cause injuries and deaths. As a Virginia personal injury attorney who has helped many victims of crashes caused by people who simply were not paying attention, I would know this to be true even if data collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration didn't show that 16 percent of fatal accidents involved at least one distracted driver.

So we know what the problem is. We know who contributes to the problem. It is now time for all of us to minimize distractions -- from electronic devices to rambunctious passengers -- and concentrate on keeping ourselves and others safe on the roads and highways.

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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