Jacob Mansch is a Kansas educator with a story to tell. Already wheelchair-bound because of spina bifida (a birth defect in which the spinal cord of an infant fails to develop properly), Mr. Mansch was seriously injured in a car accident that left him hospitalized for five months. The driver that caused the crash was allegedly distracted by his telephone at the time of the accident. Now, Mr. Mansch is using his accident and injuries to help bring awareness to others about the dangers of texting while driving.
Texting While Driving Statistics
The dangers of driving while distracted are well-documented, yet many people consider driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs to be a much larger issue. While driving under the influence is certainly dangerous, statistics show that texting while driving – especially amongst teenaged drivers – is fast becoming an epidemic. Consider the following statistics:
- During 2013, ten percent of all drivers between the ages of 15 years and 19 years who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted by a cell phone at the time of the crash (the highest percentage of any age group studied);
- It is estimated that 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 others were injured in 2013 in crashes caused by distracted drivers;
- A teen is more likely to receive a call or text from his or her own parents while the teen is driving than from any other person;
- A driver’s risk of being involved in a crash increases by a factor of four when that driver is using a cell phone, regardless of whether the cell phone is a “hands-free” device;
- Cell phone usage while driving is estimated to reduce the amount of brain activity dedicated to driving by up to 37 percent.
While distracted driving increases any driver’s risk of being involved in a serious or fatal car accident regardless of the driver’s age, these same statistics show that teenage drivers are more likely than any other age group to be seriously injured or killed in distracted driving accidents.
Keep your Teen Drivers Safe
On Kansas roads (especially those long, lonesome roads in the western part of the state), it can be tempting for teen drivers to pass the time and miles by checking their e-mails and texts, social media, or voicemails. Distracted driving accidents can occur on these roads, too. To help keep their teens safe, parents should teach (and model!) the following behaviors to their teen drivers:
- Teach your children to put away their cellphones while driving. They should turn the phone off while the car is in motion so that they will not be tempted to reach for it should a text or voicemail alert go off while the teen is driving;
- Tell your teen driver to set an automatic message to his or her phone alerting those who might try to call or text that he or she is driving and will reply to messages when he or she arrives at his or her destination;
- As parents, do not call your children or text them if you know they are on the road (and, again, teach your children not to answer the phone until they arrive at their destination);
- Finally, tell your children that if they believe they must check their phones or return messages while on the road, they should first pull off at a safe location, park their cars, and then return the message(s) before resuming their trip.
Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Distracted Driving Crash Lawyer helping families and individuals harmed by distracted drivers recover compensation for their injuries and losses. Contact his law office by calling (800) 734-3771 if you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver.