Risky driving behaviors more likely among teens, millennials

Distracted driving contributes to thousands of accidents each year.

A report recently released by the American Automobile Association (AAA) reveals that drivers under the age of 24 (primarily the so-called "millennials") are the most likely age group to engage in dangerous driving behaviors. Of particular concern were speeding and reckless driving, as well as the distractions posed by electronic devices like cellphones and tablets, activities like sending text messages or updating social networks, or using in-car "infotainment" panels for music selection or GPS guidance.

Alarmingly, 88 percent of young drivers polled admitted engaging in one or more risky driving behavior in the 30 days prior to the survey. This encompasses activities like:

  • Speeding
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Talking or texting on a cellphone while driving

Laying blame

Car manufacturers and legislators alike are scrambling to find ways to increase roadway safety, particularly since the number of serious injuries and fatalities caused by auto accidents has begun trending upward after years of decline. Many transportation industry experts feel that texting in particular is a significant contributing factor, because it is an all-inclusive type of distraction when done behind the wheel.

Texting involves three distinct levels of distraction, all of which can significantly affect a driver's ability to safely navigate the road ahead. These are:

  • Manual - taking your hands off the wheel to type in the message
  • Visual - lowering your eyes to read incoming messages and review your own before sending
  • Cognitive - mentally focusing on the text conversation instead of paying attention to traffic, road conditions, speed, etc.

A possible solution?

Technological advancements have gotten our society into its current predicament of rising auto accident injury and death rates, but evolving tech might also be the solution to the problem. Experts are currently working on devices similar to "Breathalyzer" tests, but for text messaging instead. These machines would be able to quickly determine if a driver was sending or receiving text messages in the moments before an accident occurred or a traffic stop was initiated.

In the past, the only way to definitively prove that a driver was texting or talking on a cellphone at the time of an accident was to subpoena and pore over phone records. This new technology will, when finalized, eliminate those extra steps. An officer will be able to, just by connecting a device to the user's phone, see a virtual snapshot of the activity prior to a crash or traffic stop, including whether the driver sent or received a text message or phone call, was using an app or was surfing the web. Critics of the method argue that it is an impermissible invasion of privacy that isn't justified by the possible deterrent value.

Since such technology is still in development, only time will tell if it will eventually be adopted for wider use and if it will have any sort of positive impact on the rising tide of accident injuries and deaths. In the meantime, however, if you have been hurt in an accident with a distracted driver, you have legal rights. Contact the Stamford-based Law Offices of Wesley Malowitz to learn more. Call today toll free at 866-539-5781 or locally at 203-517-0110, or send an email to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.