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Young Drivers in Denial about Distracted Driving

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has publically denounced the issue of distracted driving as a "deadly epidemic" on American roadways. Unfortunately, his assessment of the issue is not exaggerated. In a day and age where turning off your cellphone can feel like being cut off from the outside world, many people find it hard to disconnect - even when they get behind the wheel of a car. This problem is especially prolific among young drivers. Yet, according to new research, many teens and young adults are in denial about the dangers of distracted driving.

A study of more than 2,000 young drivers between the ages of 15 to 21 was conducted by Prince Market Research under the commission of Bridgestone Americas to help answer the question of why so many young people continue to drive while engaging in distracting behavior. The overall results indicated that a sense of denial pervaded the attitudes of most of the young drivers who participated in the study. They simply didn't internalize the risk.

For example, although more than half of the respondents admitted that distracted driving was dangerous, they either thought that they were not prone to distraction behind the wheel or that they were able to take precautions to avoid distraction.

But, this generation's obsession with technology and social media, coupled with a fallacy of invincibility among young drivers, has the potential to cause serious injury and even death. Take, for example, a young woman in Utah who recently crashed her car and died while driving home from college to see her parents. During the drive, the young woman was using her smartphone to post Facebook updates every 90 seconds, according to a report in the New York Times.

Experts say young drivers are less likely to see distracted driving as "risky" if they have never caused a car accident or have never been ticketed because of their behavior.

Motor vehicle accidents are the most frequent cause of serious injuries throughout Illinois, and distracted driving plays a significant role in many of these crashes. If you or a family member has been involved in a crash caused by the distraction or negligence of another driver, you may have the ability to seek justice and compensation for your injuries.

Source: The New York Times, Understanding Motives Behind Teens' Distracted Driving, Tanya Mohn, April 24, 2012.

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