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The impact of texting and driving and what can be done about it

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that more than 3,477 individuals lost their lives as a result of accidents that could be later attributed to distracted driving. Another 391,000 others were injured as a result of this type of driver negligence. Teens are among the population that has the highest rates of distracted driving of all demographic groups.

Of the many different ways in which a driver can become distracted, they include talking on a cellphone, messing with the stereo, eating, texting or engaging with someone else riding in your vehicle. All share a common end result in that they take a driver's attention off of road, putting both yourself and others at risk for injury or death.

Among the most dangerous of distractions, the NHTSA claims that texting poses the strongest risk for someone suffering bodily injury. Someone who receives a text and reads it can spend as long as five seconds doing so. If you're going 55 mph, the time you spend reading a text takes your eyes off the road for as long as it would take you to cross that professional football field.

While states like Florida are all responsible for crafting their own laws either allowing or restricting cellphone usage while driving, on the national level, the NHTSA sponsors the U Drive, U Text, U Pay campaign each year. They argue that efforts to curb distracted driving rates need to start in one's home and community, too.

Teens can express their commitment to put an end to distracted driving by taking a pledge to not text and drive or join a local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions. For parents, they can set a positive example for their kids by not engaging in texting and driving themselves and remind their kids of the penalties associated with driving and texting.

Drivers that cause a car accident attributed to their distracted driving can be held not only criminally but also civilly liable for their actions. Panama City personal injury attorneys routinely file civil actions against distracted drivers demanding reimbursement for medical expenses, loss of wages, and other damages associated with their clients suffering serious or permanent injuries.

Source: NHTSA, "Distracted driving," accessed April 28, 2017

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