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Texting and driving: Top killer of teenagers

June 26, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

Texting and driving is the  top killer of teenagers annually in the U.S., according to a recent study by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York.

The study found that texting and driving has now replaced drunk driving as the No. 1 cause of teenage fatalities.

Car accidents  are the leading killer of teenagers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. But  the Cohen Children’s Medical Center is breaking down the types of car crashes that cause the most teen deaths.

The results are surprising: texting is a greater cause of injury and death to teen drivers than alcohol.  Texting while driving kills more teen drivers than drunk driving.

Here it is  by the numbers:

  • More than 300,000 teens are injured in car accidents involving texting each year.
  • More than 3,000 teens die each year in car accidents involving texting.

Drunk driving by the numbers:

  • Approximately 282,000 teens are injured each year.
  • Approximately 2,700 teens are killed.

The study was lead by Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

As a national car accident attorney and current president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association, I believe the numbers may be even higher than Dr. Adesman found.  For instance, I know from my own cases that police rarely check cell phones for evidence of texting and driving after a car accident or single car crash. Most auto accident attorneys don’t pursue this evidence either once a case is in a lawsuit, or the evidence is no longer available by the time the case gets to an attorney. So in the majority of car accident cases that I’m aware of, negligent drivers who were paying more attention to their cell phones than to traffic on the roads are inclined to get away with it.   That would suggest the numbers used in this study could be significantly higher if texting accidents were better accounted for in police investigations early on.

The study further found that while driving between September 2010 and December 2011, among 8,947 teenagers aged 15-18 nationwide, an estimated 49% of boys admitted to texting while driving, compared with 45% of girls.

These findings unfortunately do make sense. Teenagers now carry their cell phones with them everywhere they go, day and night. Teenagers also have less driving experience, and teen drivers are more likely to exhibit poor driving judgment when they’re behind the wheel.  Like pulling out a cell phone and texting.

Statistics show that if you are texting while driving, you’re 23 times more likely to crash.

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