Distracted Driving and Teens on Alabama Roads
For many teens, driving is a first taste of freedom and a chance to demonstrate responsible behavior. Unfortunately, too many teenagers aren’t passing the test as the rates of distracted driving accidents continue to soar.
According to an in-depth study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 6 in 10 moderate to severe teen crashes are caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving is the cause of 89% of road departure crashes, 76% of rear-end crashes, and 58% of all teen crashes.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the road and the surrounding conditions. There are several types of distractions that could affect a driver. A manual distraction means that the driver’s hands come off the wheel. A visual distraction means that their eyes are taken off the road. A cognitive distraction is anything that takes the driver’s mind off driving.
Some of the most common types of distracted driving are:
- Using a cell phone
- Dealing with the vehicle’s radio or GPS system
- Taking photos or video
- Personal grooming
- Eating and drinking
- Speaking to other passengers
When teenagers have other teens in their vehicle, it can be a huge distraction from driving. Teens are often susceptible to peer pressure to goof off in a vehicle, speed, drive without wearing a seatbelt, and break other traffic laws.
How Distracted Driving Causes Accidents
Many of us like to believe that we are master multitaskers, but the truth is that focusing on just one activity at a time makes more sense. This is particularly the case when it comes to driving.
When a car accident happens in Alabama, it is often tragic and sometimes deadly. In fact, statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that Alabama has the 6th highest accident fatality rate in the nation.
One of the reasons that the rate is so high is because there are many rural areas in the state, which don’t offer easy access to hospitals and emergency care. These rural areas also give teen drivers a false sense of security, thinking that there is no harm in looking down at a phone or turning to speak to a friend. Unfortunately, not only do accidents occur but these activities are also against Alabama law.
Distracted Driving Laws in Alabama
Distracted driving has become such a prolific problem that individual states are addressing the issue with strict legislation. Alabama’s distracted driving law was passed in 2011. Drivers in the state aren’t banned from using handheld devices, but it is unlawful to text while driving.
Novice drivers, which are defined as any driver age 16 or 17 who has been licensed for six months or less, are banned from using cell phones in vehicles altogether. This ban extends to the use of both handheld and hands-free devices.
Any driver that violates the text messaging ban in Alabama can receive a $25 fine and two points on their license. Subsequent tickets will have increased penalties.
The Implications of Distracted Driver Accidents in Alabama
Car insurance rates are on the rise nationwide almost solely due to the problem of distracted driving accidents. When a distracted teen driver has an accident, it has far-reaching implications. The family is forced to deal with the aftermath of the crash and defend against potential lawsuits, and the injured party is likely suffering from a loss of property as well as serious injury.
Teens already have the highest rate of car crashes of any age group in the U.S. If you have a teenage driver, the best thing that you can do is teach them safe driving practices and set up strict rules for vehicle operation. Teens should have cell phones turned off or put away while driving and some teens should be restricted from having friends ride in their vehicles as a safety precaution.