Smartphones are addicting for adults and teens alike.
In fact, according to The Daily Mail, the average owner of a smartphone checks the device up to 85 times per day. This is approximately one-third of the time a person is awake during the day.
If a smartphone user is checking their phone that much, it should not be a surprise that some of those checks are done while driving. Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone on the road, but a new study suggests that smartphone distractions may be a gateway to other bad behaviors for teen drivers.
About the Study
State Farm performed the study. It assessed American teenagers who use their smartphones while driving. The study concluded that a teen driver is more likely to participate in other dangerous driving activities when they use their phone.
For example, a teen driver is more likely to speed, drive while under the influence, and not wear their seatbelt. In the survey from State Farm, more than 80 percent of teen drivers admitted to using their phone while driving.
Dangerous Activities Increase with Smartphone Use
State Farm concluded that driving with the smartphone is dangerous enough, but that over one-third of teens assessed admitted to reading and talking on their smartphone while driving. Another 15 percent sent text messages or watched videos while driving. The older the teen driver is, the riskier their behaviors were too.
Teens that use their smartphones while driving have a higher risk of motor vehicle collisions. Also, the study suggested that these teens are more likely to engage in high-risk driving activities; thus, increasing the likelihood of a fatal accident.
Teen Driving Fatalities on the Rise
Teen drivers are a growing concern in the United States. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2,270 teenagers between 16 and 19 years of age were killed in automobile accidents. There were over 200,000 injured. This equates to six teenagers dying each day because of a car accident in the United States.
Can You Sue a Teenage Driver for Distracted Driving?
In these types of accident cases, a Mesa personal injury law firm would likely seek damages from the parent. If the teenager is under the age of 18 (which is the legal age in the state), they cannot be sued for their reckless driving behavior.
Teen Drivers are Required to Follow Standard of Care Like All Drivers
While they may be teenagers, they are still required to give the same standard of care while on the road as all ages. Licensed drivers have a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists on the road with them. If they breach that duty, such as texting on their smartphone, and someone is injured as a result, civil liability applies.
The injured party will enlist the help of a Car Accident lawyer in Mesa to seek damages from the insurance company that insures the teen driver. The teen’s insurer is then liable for damages that include medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses stemming from the incident.
However, parents are vicariously responsible for actions of their children. A parent or guardian is responsible for their minor driver and their responsibility applies when:
- The teen receives their driver’s license;
- The teen causes a car accident;
- Alternatively, at both times.
If, however, the parent does not have contact or control over the teenager, the vicarious liability law will not apply. The parent or guardian cannot be responsible if they are no longer supervising their teen’s driving. For example, a teen who lives outside of their parent’s home is not under the supervision or control of those parent’s. Therefore, they are not vicariously liable for their actions.
Did the Parents Know About the Teen’s Driving Habits?
One issue that may arise is whether the parents knew or should have known that their teen driver was likely to cause an accident. If so, the parent is financially responsible for damages caused by that incident. For example, a parent may know that their child has a habit of speeding, talking on their cell phone, or abusing drugs and alcohol.
A parent knowing of their teen’s habits is not enough. The habit must be the cause of the car accident for the parent to be held responsible as part of the family-purpose doctrine (ARS Section 12-2506(D)(2).
Speaking with a Mesa Accident Lawyer
Those who are injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a teen driver have a highly complex case ahead of them.
It is in their best interest to contact a local personal injury law firm that has experience handling these types of accident claims.
An attorney will assess the facts of the case, review police reports, interview witnesses, and determine not only if there is a case against the teen driver, but if vicarious liability applies. Sometimes, accident victims are left only filing a claim with the insurer, which means they are limited to liability payout limits on that policy. If, however, parents are liable, then the attorney can seek compensation from the parental assets and umbrella insurance policies (if available).
For those seriously injured in an accident, contact the Mesa personal injury law firm of Tobler Law. Schedule a free consultation at 480-898-9700 or request more information online.