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Alabama Traffic Safety Watch: More Teen Drivers Die Texting Than Drinking

May 19, 2013 - Birmingham, Car Accidents by

There is no question that distraction behind the wheel is deadly, especially for teens.
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However, new research reveals that distraction – or more specifically, texting and cell phone use – results in more U.S. teen fatalities than drunk driving.

Our Birmingham car accident attorneys know that this revelation may come as a surprise to some, but it’s been some time in coming, given the number of teens who now carry cell phones and how frequently they are used.

The Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Hyde, New York found that while there are an estimated 3,000 teens who die every year as a result of a crash that occurs due to texting while driving, the number of teens who die in drunk driving crashes is about 2,700.

That’s about a 12 percent difference.

It makes sense too when you think of these issues in terms of access. Not every teenager is going to have access to alcohol. They shouldn’t, anyway, because it’s against the law in every state. They do get it, of course, but even in those cases, it’s usually not an every day occurrence.

But cell phones are the norm among teens. It’s rare that you find a teenager without one, and these devices are often easily accessible every time one gets behind the wheel. That kind of incessant access can also make it difficult for a teen to ignore phone calls or text messages.

Seeming to back this theory is a recent report by CBS News, which revealed survey results indicating that nearly 60 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving, even in states where it was expressly forbidden by law.

Last year, Alabama became the 38th state to ban texting behind the wheel, and the law applies to all drivers. It’s a primary law, meaning officers can pull you over simply for this offense. Yet, it doesn’t appear to be widely enforced. USA Today reported that since the law’s inception last August, the Alabama State Highway Patrol has only issued 155 citations for the offense, as of May 5, 2013.

Figures weren’t available from local police agencies. But clearly, we could be doing more to drive home the point. If teens know they are unlikely to face any consequences, there is little to stop them from continuing these same behaviors.

A recent survey conducted by CarInsurance.com found that many motorists take this issue seriously, with 53 percent believing that an in-vehicle cellphone ticket should result in increased insurance rates. (In Alabama, it already is, as an offense is considered a moving violation, carrying up to two points on your license, which would in turn increase your rates.)

Another 75 percent said that if cameras were installed in vehicles, anyone caught talking on a cell phone should automatically have their rates increased. Sixty-three percent of respondents said that teens should be required to install in-vehicle monitoring devices. Eighty-one percent said we should do the same for those with a prior DUI conviction.

Additional Resources:

More Teen Deaths From Texting And Driving Than DUI, May 10, 2013, Staff Report, Inquisitir.com

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