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The dangers of text messaging while driving

Tennessee residents are likely aware that the use of mobile electronic devices has grown markedly in recent years. While smartphones are packed with innovative features, they are also a contributing factor in a growing number of automobile accidents each year. According to NHTSA, 18 percent of traffic collisions in 2010 involved a distracted driver. These accidents claimed the lives of 3,092 people and injured 416,000 others.

The problem of texting while driving is particularly pronounced among younger drivers. A Pew survey found that 40 percent of teens reported being in a car when a dangerous situation developed because a cellphone was being used behind the wheel. Experts advise parents to warn their children about the dangers of distracted driving and to set a good example by not using a cellphone while driving themselves.

While there is no federal law banning texting behind the wheel, several states have passed legislation outlawing the practice or requiring drivers to use only hands-free devices. The issue is also being addressed by the FCC, electronics manufacturers and safety organizations. The importance of these efforts was highlighted in a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that found an accident was 23 times more likely when drivers read or send text messages.

Distracted drivers often cause accidents by straying into the path of oncoming traffic or weaving between lanes. This type of unpredictable behavior might not give other motorists sufficient time to react to avoid a crash. Those injured in distracted driving accidents may pursue civil remedies, and a personal injury attorney could file a lawsuit on their behalf against the negligent driver responsible. This lawsuit could seek damages to cover an accident victim's property damage, medical expenses and lost income.

Source: FCC, "The dangers of texting while driving ", November 14, 2014

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