Key Points of This Article:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens making the group three times more likely to be involved in a car crash than older drivers.
- As many as 60% of teen driving accidents that occur during the summer months are due to distracted driving.
- Texting and driving is a form of distracted driving and illegal in Michigan as a primary offense.
- Parents need to set and enforce non-negotiable family rules for driving, including no cellphone use while driving, whether hands-free or handheld.
Summer Months Highlight the Dangers of Distracted, Young Drivers
Teens are more easily distracted by texting, riding with friends, eating, using drugs or alcohol, playing music, and using mobile apps while driving. Between 2007 and 2017, the overall teenage car crash death rate amounted to about 20 for every 100,000 drivers, according to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. During the summer months, when school is out of session, the average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers (ages 15-18) is 17% higher per day compared to other days of the year.
Young drivers too often fail to follow these good driver behaviors:
- avoiding distractions like texting while driving
- employing the two-second rule for following distances
- being aware of environment hazards
- driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- how to deal with passenger distractions
- in-vehicle technologies
- knowing your vehicle’s stopping and reaction distance
- passing and necessary clear distance
- properly handling railroad crossings
- red light running
- right of way
- scanning the roadway and adapting to surroundings
- sharing the road
- speed adjustments
- vehicle emergencies
Fatal teen crash rates are also involved in impaired driving and speeding events during the summer when the number of crash fatalities involving a younger driver has historically risen.
Is Michigan’s Primary Distracted Driving Law Reducing the Number of Teens Who Text While Driving?
Sending, reading, or typing on a mobile phone while driving is illegal in Michigan and has been listed a primary offense for more than a decade. Police can stop a driver solely or primarily for the suspected violation. Drivers face a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent violations. Also, teens with a Level 1 or Level 2 Graduated Driver License who use a mobile phone while driving risk being ticketed by a law enforcement officer.
(MCL 257.602b(1)) A driver “shall not read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device . . . including a wireless telephone used in cellular telephone service or personal communication service, while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street in this state.”
Data drawn from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that some states with primary enforced distracted driving laws, are experiencing lower fatal crashes involving 16- to 19-year-old drivers. But despite these distracted driving laws and ongoing public education in Michigan, which has created more awareness that it unacceptable to text on the phone while driving, Michigan State Police (MSP) data reveals teens who choose to participate in distracted driving activities are unfortunately still contributed to an upward trend in distracted driving according to the most recent data.
MSP announced in an April 2019 Traffic Crash Statistical Report:
- distracted driving crashes involving teen drivers have increased by nearly 60%
- fatalities from distracted driving crashes occur 67% of the time
It’s obvious. We still have much more work to do to help young drivers. Experts at The National Road Safety Foundation say education, policy, legal accountability, and enforcement are all critical factors in preventing teens from texting while driving. Parents also contribute to lessening the risk their young drivers pose by modeling and teaching safe driving behavior before their teen reaches driving age.
Parents Can Play an Important Role in Teen Driver Skill Training
When a parent chooses to become involved in their teen driver’s skill training, that time spent can help reduce collisions and minimize the risk of related crash fatalities for all road users.
Parents can significantly help their teen driver by doing simple things like:
- practicing good driving with their teen
- modeling their best driver behavior
- lead with safe driving habits like wearing a seat belt, obeying speed limits, stay off their phones
- create a safe family driving plan
- help their child understand the consequences of distracted driving
If you are not currently working with your teen driver and playing one of the most critical roles in keeping everyone safe, including your child, today is the perfect day to start.
A Lawyer Can Help Prove Texting as Traffic Accident Cause
If a driver caused a car accident resulting in injury or wrongful death and it can be proven that they were texting, the driver can be sued in a civil injury lawsuit for negligence but a lawyer is likely needed to help acquire the evidence. And when it comes to claiming pain and suffering or a case for compensation for negligence, the defendant could be the driver who caused the accident, the owner of the vehicle involved, as well as a business if it’s a company owned vehicle and the employer allowed the distraction. Although recent disruptions caused by COVID-19 have delayed some businesses, we are still supporting claims and working proactively to create strong cases for individuals injured in a Michigan car accident.
Have You Been Injured by a Teen Driver or In a Distracted Driving Accident?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by the poor decisions of a reckless driver, you and your family may be entitled to compensation for things like medical bills, lost wages, and funeral expenses.
Call The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. today for a FREE consultation with one of our Michigan auto accident attorneys experienced in proving distracted driving was a cause in auto accident cases. Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). With offices in Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, and Southfield, and throughout Michigan, we are equipped to meet at a location that is convenient for you.
Also read: Ten Things Every Michigan Driver Should Know