States with stricter distracted driving laws have fewer fatal car accidents involving teen drivers
Since the advent of cellphones and other handheld electronic devices, distracted driving has become a growing public safety concern across the United States. In 2018, it resulted in 2,841 traffic fatalities and an estimated 400,000 injuries nationwide.
Like many other states, Pennsylvania has a statewide texting and driving ban that is enforced as a primary law. There is no statewide hand-held ban for drivers, but some local municipalities do have and enforce them.
The link between strict distracted driving laws & fewer teen driver deaths
Early research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that teen drivers are the most likely to use cellphones while driving. Most commonly, this includes sending text messages or emails, reading text messages and talking on a cellphone.
Traffic collisions are the leading causes of death among teenagers, according to the CDC. Distracted driving may be one of the main culprits. New research conducted by Michael R. Flaherty, who is a pediatric critical care physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, has found a link between strict distracted driving laws and fewer road deaths involving teens.
The study is titled "Distracted Driving Laws and Motor Vehicle Crash Fatalities" and was published by the Pediatrics journal in June of 2020. Researchers in the study compiled national data of 38,215 fatal crashes involving teens that occurred from 2007-2017. The study found that the risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with age. Teen drivers who are 19 years old are at the greatest risk.
More states have stricter distracted driving laws
The study also found that only 15 states had distracted driving laws in place in 2007. The number of states with distracted driving laws increased to 47 by 2017. Researchers found a significant decrease in fatal crashes involving drivers ages 16-19 over the course of that 10-year period.
States that enforced distracted driving laws as primary enforcement had the largest decrease. In these states, police could pull drivers over and cite them for solely texting and driving. States with only secondary enforcement showed some improvement in comparison to states that didn't have any distracted driving laws at all. In secondary enforcement states, police can't pull drivers over for using cellphones. They can cite drivers for distracted driving after pulling them over for another infraction.
Preventing distracted driving among teens doesn't only start with stricter laws. According to Flaherty, distracted driving is often a learned behavior that teens get from spending time in the car with their parents. Parents can set a good example by not picking up the cellphone while driving and teaching their children the same.
Attorneys serving crash victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, our law firm can help you pursue a strong legal claim against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. We can also fight to help you get compensated for your crash-related losses. Contact us online to set up your free legal consultation.