Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes and traffic fatalities in Rhode Island. The use of cellphones while driving has become such a threat to public safety that several states (including Rhode Island) have passed laws banning them behind the wheel.
Previous studies have shown that teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in distracted driving crashes than any other age group. The most common form, of distraction among drivers ages 18-20 is sending text messages or emails, reading text messages, and talking on the phone.
States with stricter traffic laws have fewer fatal car accidents
According to Forbes, laws that ban all cellphone use while driving have been effective at preventing distracted driving among teen drivers. The article cites a recent study conducted by Michael R. Flaherty, a pediatric critical care physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston.
The study, which is dubbed "Distracted Driving Laws and Motor Vehicle Crash Fatalities" was published in the journal Pediatrics in June. It found that states that enforced texting and driving bans as primary laws had lower traffic fatality rates involving teens than states that didn't.
The study analyzed 38,215 fatal crashes involving teens across the U.S. from 2007-2017 and found that fatality rates among teens increased with age. Drivers and passengers who were 19 years old were the most at risk.
It's important to note that in 2007, only 15 states had any kind of distracted driving law. By 2017, the number of states with distracted driving laws increased to 47. Researchers in the study noticed a decrease in the fatal crash rate among drivers ages 16-19 during that time period. States with secondary enforcement showed more declines in crash fatality rates among teens than states with no distracted driving laws. States with primary enforcement saw the largest decreases.
Here is the difference between primary and secondary enforcement:
- Primary enforcement: Police officers can pull over and cite drivers solely for using cellphones while driving.
- Secondary enforcement: Police officers can only cite drivers for using cellphones if they are pulled over for another traffic infraction.
According to Dr. Flaherty, preventing distracted driving among teen drivers goes beyond enforcing traffic laws. It comes from the example parents set for their children. When parents engage in distracted driving, teen drivers may get the impression that it's normal. Therefore, they think it is acceptable to do it themselves.
Get a Providence car accident attorney if you were injured
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash involving a distracted driver, it's important that you speak to an experienced Providence car accident attorney who can help you pursue a legal claim and get the compensation you deserve.
To learn about the legal options available to you, contact the Law Office of Mark B. Morse.