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As a top Chicago personal injury attorney I am often faced with metting the families of those killed or seriously injured as a result of teenage distracted driving. Alcohol, lack of sleep and bad weather all increase the danger of driving on Chicago’s roads. However, while drivers cannot control weather conditions, one risk — distracted driving — is a factor drivers have control over.
Distracted driving is especially dangerous for teenagers and young adults. Technology including constant communication between friends are the main culpret. Friends can divert a driver’s attention from the road and most teenagers are inexperieniced drivers. These are just a few reasons why teenagers, as the Daily Herald reports, are the most at-risk drivers in the country.
What Is Distracted Driving?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are three types of distractions a teenager may experience while driving:
- Visual: Removing the eyes from the road (e.g., reading a text or putting on makeup)
- Manual: Taking hands off the wheel (e.g., typing on a phone or changing the radio)
- Cognitive: Thinking about things other than driving (e.g., relationships or school)
Given these factors it is clear why teenagers are the highest risk group for car accidents in the country. They must balance demands from school and extracurricular activities, try to keep up on the latest gossip, and usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these statistics to put the dangers of distracted driving into perspective:
- 11 adolescents are killed in a car crash daily
- 82 percent of teens use of cell phone while driving
- Texting increases the risk of an accident by 23 times
- Sending one text message is equal to an adult consuming four beers
These alarming statistics could continue for several pages and this data, as reported by the Daily Herald, is why many safety advocates suggest a nationwide graduated driver’s license system (GDL).
Graduated Driver’s License Systems
The Illinois Secretary of State indicates its GDL requires parental consent for a 15-year-old child to obtain a learners permit, and this permit must be held for a minimum of nine months. Upon turning 16, a parent or guardian may certify 50 hours of driving practice has been completed and the teen may take the initial licensing test. This stage has certain restrictions such as no nighttime driving and a prohibition on cell usage. Finally, when a teen turns 18 they may obtain a full license with minimum age restrictions.
If someone has been injured in a car accident as a result of distracted driving, please contact my office to discuss their rights and potential legal claims.