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New study quantifies distracted driving risks for different age groups

Under California law, all drivers are banned from texting, according to the government website
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    January 24, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- By now, drivers in Los Angeles County should be well aware of the risks that come with distracted driving. If drivers need another reminder, however, a recently published study further emphasizes the role of distracted driving in car accidents by evaluating how different activities affected a driver's crash risk. The study findings serve as a reminder to all California drivers of the need for caution and responsible behavior any time that they get behind the wheel.

Salient study findings

The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted with volunteer drivers whose vehicles were equipped with radar, video cameras, GPS and accelerometers. Participants were categorized into two groups: drivers who had just received licenses and experienced drivers who had, on average, at least 20 years of driving experience. Some findings were that:
- For new drivers, dialing a cell phone increased crash risk 8.32 times, while simply trying to pick up a cell phone increased the risk by 7.05 times.
- For experienced drivers, dialing a cell phone, which increased crash risk 2.49 times, was the only activity that made a crash more likely.
- For new drivers, even behaviors like eating and looking at nearby accidents more than doubled the crash risk.
- As the new drivers gained more experience, they were more likely to engage in distracted behaviors while behind the wheel.

Although many studies have been conducted to quantify how well drivers perform while texting, talking or otherwise taking their attention away from the road, few studies have compared specific findings for experienced and new drivers. The study results underscore the fact that, although distractions like technology use are unsafe for any driver, they can be especially dangerous for younger people.

Distracted driving in California

Under California law, all drivers are banned from texting, according to the government website Novice drivers under the age of 18 are banned from the use of any cellphones, including hands-free sets. Unfortunately, these laws do not deter everyone, and texting and talking are not the only forms of distraction, even if they are among the most dangerous.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles website emphasizes the fact that distraction can take three forms: manual, visual and cognitive. Any task that distracts a driver on one of these fronts -- such as conversing with a passenger, applying makeup or looking at directions -- constitutes a distraction. Activities like texting that merge all three types of distraction are especially risky.

The study findings indicate that teaching younger drivers about the risks of distracted driving -- and the dangers of becoming overconfident about driving ability -- is crucial. Although the study found that activities like eating did not increase crash risk for experienced drivers, these drivers should remember that their habits set an example for younger drivers, who may develop the impression that these behaviors typically do not have negative consequences.

Unfortunately, reports indicate that many drivers of various ages admit to at least sometimes texting or dialing while driving. This can greatly increase the risk of an accident, and it can have horrible consequences for other drivers.

If a driver who was distracted or otherwise behaving negligently has hurt you or a loved one, you should speak with an attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights and your options for pursuing compensation.

Article provided by Law Offices of Lee Arter
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