Texting has become the preferred method of telecommunication by teens
The i-generation is the first generation of young people to grow up with mobile communication and media technologies. Members of the ‘i-gens’ are very connected through text messaging and telephone communiqué. Seventy-five percent of teens own cell phones and a third of those text more than 100 times a day. Eleven percent say they send over 200 messages every day. A study conducted in 2012 comparing boys texting behaviors to girls, Pew Research found, on average, girls typically send and receive 100 texts a day while boys send and receive 50. Is text messaging becoming an addiction?
Many teens feel pressured by their peers to be available 24/7
Psychologists believe that cell phones are an addiction for many young people. Four out of five teens sleep with their smart phones. Some use their smart phones as an alarm. But because text messaging is central to the way teens communicate with their peers, there is a good deal of peer pressure to be ‘available’ at all times. Studies show that a number of teens keep their smart phones bedside so as not to offend a ‘friend’ who may text them during the night.
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has posted the following youtube video of a young woman, a high-school honor roll student, who states how important her phone was to her; that she felt alone and lonely without it. She was severely injured and suffered facial disfigurement and loss of senses including eyesight, taste and smell when she momentarily took her eyes from the road to read an incoming text.
Courts hold “texters” partially responsible for accidents caused by texting
The National Safety Council (NSC) researchers observing more than 1,700 drivers found that three out of every four drivers using a cell phone committed a traffic violation. Drivers are four times more likely to crash when talking on the cell phone; while phone texting, drivers are 23 times more likely to collide with an object, person or vehicle. And drivers are less likely to remember what they’ve seen when talking on a hands free device.
States now recognize that due to constitutional privacy issues, initial efforts at putting texting and driving legislation on the books have lacked the teeth necessary to enforce the laws. Consequently, states are looking for more effective legislation and courts are handing down rulings that hold people accountable for their knowledge and errors in judgment where text messaging is concerned.
In New Jersey, the Court of Appeals has ruled that a texter “has a duty not to text someone who is driving” if the sender knows the person “will view the text while driving.” What does this mean? If a texter has knowledge or a reason to believe that the person being texted may be behind-the-wheel and may view the text while driving, the texter could bear some financial liability if an accident occurs.
Parents should be proactive with their children
As parents, we know that when our children receive their driver’s permit and license, drive-time instruction is not enough to compensate for real-world experience. We hope and we pray that our children learn defensive driving skills without traffic incident or injury. If your ‘i-gen’ teen seems to need his or her smart phone with them at all times, be very proactive in instructing your child about the dangers that come with the use of cellphones while driving.
Give a cellphone challenge to your child. Ask them to refrain from using their cell phone for an evening, then a day and maybe even two. Set your son or daughter up for success by not asking too much, too soon. Their ability to exercise self-control over their cell phone use will be a confidence booster.
When they use the vehicle, ask them to leave their cell phone at home and suggest they act as the ‘designated driver’ when with friends. Chances are their friends will have a phone with them should an emergency arise. Parents, if you need to text or phone your teen, get in the habit of calling one of their friends who you know is present in the car your teen is driving. Discuss this strategy with other parents and work towards a consensus to employ these techniques. Teach your teens how to prioritize while you still have them under your control. The lessons you teach them now, will stay with them for a lifetime.
Read more about distracted driving and discover apps that parents and newly licensed teens can use to educate and build trust.
Attorney Charlie Ward is a plaintiff’s attorney and represents those who have been injured by another person’s negligence. If you believe that you were injured by a distracted driver, call Charlie at 317-639-9501 or 888-639-9501 for a consultation and evaluation of your claim. Ward & Ward Law Firm is open 24 hours a day.
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