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Texting and driving poses serious risk of car accidents

There are many different potential causes of car accidents. In Virginia, common causes include poor road conditions, weather conditions, vehicle malfunction, drunk driving and other forms of driver negligence. As technology becomes an ever-increasing presence in people's daily lives, it is also becoming a growing cause of car accidents.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the use cell phones and other mobile devices while driving is dramatically increasing the incidences of distracted driving behaviors that cause serious-and sometimes even fatal-car accidents. Various statistics indicate the widespread danger associated with the use of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction was cited as the cause of 18 percent of fatal collisions and crashes causing serious injury in 2010. Among young drivers, approximately forty percent of teens report being present in a car driven by someone using a cell phone and endangering other people. Over ten percent of young adults who were involved in a car accident revealed that they had been using a mobile device to send a text prior to the crash.

Although there is currently no national law prohibiting the use of mobile devices while driving, many states have passed laws in recognition of the dangers of texting and driving. In Virginia, there is currently a law prohibiting novice drivers, meaning those under 18, from using hand-held devices while driving, and there is also a general ban for all drivers on texting while driving. The FCC notes that the levels of distracted driving and the correlation between distracted driving and texting while driving poses such a concern that it aims to work with government agencies and industry and safety organizations in order to curb or eliminate the practice, create safer technologies and educate the public about the dangers.

In an effort to facilitate safer driving practices, the FCC encourages parents to clearly instruct their teen drivers that cell phones are not to be used while driving. It is important to remind new drivers that even just a few seconds of distraction can mean serious injury or death. In addition, the FCC reminds adults that they must provide a good example to young people and new drivers by not engaging in the use of hand-held devices while driving either. There is no age limit on the dangers of texting while driving; no one is immune to the risk.

Source: Federal Communications Commission, "The Dangers of Texting While Driving," accessed on Nov. 29, 2014

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