Drunk and distracted driving among American teenagers

Teenage drivers are less likely to drive drunk today, but distracted driving is on the rise.

Risky driving, such as driving while impaired or distracted, is dangerous no matter who does it. For young drivers, however, that danger is even greater given their relative inexperience behind the wheel. Because of such risks, it is always useful to track the driving behaviors of teenagers and do whatever is possible to improve safety among new drivers. A recent study into drunk driving among teenagers includes the encouraging news that teenagers today are far less likely to drive drunk than they were in the past. At the same time, however, distracted driving continues to be a major problem with young and inexperienced motorists.

Drunk driving down

Police, high school, and public safety advocates have spent considerable time and resources over recent years to teach teenagers and young adults about the dangers of drunk driving. Schools regularly hold assemblies, for example, to inform students about drinking and driving and public education campaigns have tried to get the message out about how dangerous drunk driving is.

That campaign seems to be working. As NPR reports, a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that just 6.6 percent of drivers aged 16 to 20 admitted to drinking and driving in 2014, compared to 16.2 percent in 2002. While the drop is certainly encouraging, the study's authors note that drunk driving is still responsible for 17 percent of fatal accidents involving teen drivers.

Distracted driving up

One message that teen drivers appear to be less receptive to, however, concerns the threat of distracted driving. A study released in 2015 showed that distracted driving plays a much bigger role in teen driving accidents than was previously believed. Using in-car video recordings, the study by the AAA Foundation found that distracted driving was a factor in 60 percent of moderate to severe accidents involving teen drivers, which is four times higher than previous estimates, according to ABC News.

Distractions can come in many different forms, such as talking to passengers, listening to music, eating, personal grooming, and reaching for items. Cellphone use, in particular, has helped bring concerns about distracted driving to the forefront and has led to a number of states banning texting and driving, especially for teenagers. Focusing on distractions among young drivers is especially important given that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of teenagers.

Personal injury

While most drivers would agree that drunk driving is both dangerous and reckless, distracted driving remains far too prevalent on Connecticut's roads and highways. The fact is that not paying attention to the road, whether because of alcohol or a text message, is always dangerous. Anybody who has been hurt in a crash that may have been caused by another driver should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can help crash victims deal with the often confusing aftermath of an accident and possibly assist them with whatever compensation claims may be available.