Albuquerque Journal reported recently on a devastating motor vehicle crash in Texas that resulted in 13 deaths. Authorities say a 20 year old driver in a pickup truck was allegedly distracted by his phone when he slammed into a church van, killing all but one of the van's occupants. The pickup truck driver was believed to have crossed the center line. Federal investigators have obtained his phone records, toxicology reports, along with other evidence and are working to discern the exact cause of the crash.
While this deadly crash made national headlines for the sheer number of lives lost, it was far from the only crash caused by a distracted driver. New Mexico authorities site these incidents on an almost daily basis. Many of the accidents occurring due to drivers using cell phones involve motorists around the age of the young man who was driving the pickup truck in this particular incident. In fact, a new study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests motorists aged 19 to 24 may be the demographic group most likely to engage in the types of high-risk behavior that often leads to auto accidents.
Young Adult Drivers Engage in Dangerous Behavior Leading to Accidents
Texting and driving, the suspected cause of this crash, is a behavior in which young motorists are far more likely to engage than their older counterparts. The AAA Foundation discovered motorists between the ages of 19 and 24 were 1.6 times as likely as all drivers to indicate they had read either an email or a text while driving. Although just 40.2 percent of all drivers indicated they had read texts or emails while operating a motor vehicle, 66.1 percent of 19 to 24 year old motorists admitted to reading emails or texts while behind the wheel.
Motorists are not just reading texts either. They are writing them. Among all drivers, 31.4 percent of motorists said they wrote a text or email and sent it while they were behind the wheel. Among drivers who were 19 to 24, 59.3 percent wrote emails or texts while driving. These 19 to 24 year old drivers were almost twice as likely to be typing emails and texts compared with all drivers.
Young motorists ages 19 to 24 were also 1.4 times as likely to go 10 mph or more over the speed limit in a residential area. They were also more likely to run red lights, with 36 percent of all drivers admitting to going through a red compared with 50 percent of drivers between the ages of 19 and 24.
All of these behaviors are high risk ones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported 30 percent of all fatal car accidents can be attributed to speeding, and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported 709 fatalities and 126,000 injuries due to drivers running red lights just in 2014 alone.
Distracted driving is an especially risky behavior. A total of 3,477 people died of accidents involving distracted drivers in 2015, according to NHTSA, and more than 660,000 drivers on the road at any given time are distracted. A motorist focused on emailing and texting is much more likely to become involved in a crash and, as this recent fatal accident shows, the death toll can be very high.
Those who are injured by distracted drivers may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against distracted drivers for negligence.