Can an Indiana Teenager Be Held Liable for Causing an Accident Driving While Distracted?

The state of Indiana, like many other states across America, has implemented strict laws for distracted driving to reduce the ever-increasing incidences of tragic accidents. In many of the tragic distracted driving car accidents across the country, the drivers were under the age of 18.

Which leads us to ask – Can an Indiana teenager be held liable for causing an accident while driving distracted?


Holding Novice Drivers to Stiffer Laws?


Novice drivers might be able to multitask while driving, however statistics have shown over and over again that texting while driving distracts even the most experienced drivers long enough to cause a car accident. The laws were written in a manner that makes sending text messages while a motorist is operating a vehicle illegal, and many state laws also include making a call on the cell phone, using dashboard technology or the radio, and even eating.


The truth of the matter is: Teenagers are more likely to participate in reckless behaviors, such as texting while driving, than novice drivers are. Thus, teenagers are more likely to cause accidents. So, are we holding novice drivers to stiffer laws than teenagers are held to?


Statistics on Distracted Driving


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a national survey in 2011 on distracted driving. Before the results of the study were reported, the CDC noted that every day, eight people were killed and 1,161 were injured in car collisions that reportedly involved a driver who was distracted in 2011. An image of a football field is featured next to the list of statistics, captioned with, “At 55 mph, the average text takes your eyes off the road long enough to cover a football field.”


Think about when you are driving. Now, think about how many cars can fit on a football field. In theory, that is the amount of cars that could possibly be involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. In reality, though, once the vehicle of the distracted driver hits another car, the distracted driver vehicle will not continue along the course of the entire length of the football field, because the impact will stop the car in its tracks. However, when a distracted driver is texting or participating in any other activity that takes their attention away from the road, any car within a football field away from them is in jeopardy.  


If the 2011 statistics sound scary, the 2014 numbers imply that distracted driving is much more out of hand as time has elapsed. revealed that in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also reported that 10 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes admitted to being distracted at the time.


Surprising Distracted While Driving Statistics


However, statistics from the NHTSA reveal some surprising data. While it is believed that teenagers most likely caused a majority of distracted driving accidents, drivers in their 20s made up 23 percent of the fatal distracted driving crashes. This age group were 27 percent of the distracted drivers on the road and 38 percent of the distracted drivers who were specifically using cell phones when fatal crashes occurred. Because there are fewer drivers in the age group 15 to 19 years old, and more accidents per the amount of drivers (which is six percent of all drivers), teenagers still had a higher amount of distracted driving incidences, proportionately.  


Statistics – Drivers vs. Passengers


In the 2013 statistics provided by the NHTSA, distracted driving fatalities were analyzed. Of the occupants in the cars, drivers made up 60 percent of the distraction-affected fatalities, while passengers made up 25 percent of the distraction-affected fatalities. However, these are not the only fatalities that occur in distracted driving crashes – people who are not even riding in cars can get killed or injured when someone is distracted while driving! Pedestrians made up 12 percent of the fatalities, while bicyclists made up two percent.


CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey


The CDC’s national behavior survey on youth back in 2011 disclosed the following:


  • 50 percent of high school teen drivers admitted to sending text messages or email while driving a car.


  • Students who participate in texting while driving are five times more likely to drink alcohol and drive.


  • Students who participate in texting while driving are twice as likely to get in the car with a driver who has been drinking.


The admission of these dangerous behaviors showed a strong parallel between risky behaviors and the tendency to engage in distracted driving behaviors.


Back to the Question at Hand


All of the statistics point at teenagers being the main group that should be focused on regarding repercussions for distracted driving. So, we pose the question again: Can an Indiana teenager be held liable for causing an accident while driving distracted? Legally, the answer to the question is: Yes.


AT&T created a commercial called Close to Home – It Can Wait, as part of an initiative to expand awareness about distracted driving. The commercial shows how everyday normal people participate in distracted driving without even thinking and how quickly a distracted driver can land in a tragic accident that could change lives forever. Any teenager who has not seen the commercial should definitely watch it.  


Maybe we should be asking the question: How should Indiana teenagers be held liable for distracted driving accidents? How should anyone be held liable for distracted driving accidents? Especially when people are injured or killed an accident that could have been prevented by simply obeying the law. There are strict laws against it, yet the tragic statistics keep growing.


If you have been injured in a distracted driving car accident, you should call a dedicated Indiana car accident attorney who will help you to recover compensation you deserve. Distracted driving is against the law! Drivers who cause tragic car accidents because they are texting while driving or chatting on their cell phone need to be held accountable for the damage, the injuries, and the pain and suffering that they cause.

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