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Two Reasons Why Teen Drivers Are More Susceptible To Distractions

Distracted driving has received a lot of attention in the Florida and national press lately for good reasons. The explosion of drivers using mobile devices to place calls or send or receive text messages while behind the wheel has not been without consequence. Distracted drivers caused 416,000 injuries and 3,000 deaths in 2010 alone, according to the Department of Transportation.

Although the adverse effect that mobile devices have on attention and focus is prevalent across all age groups, experts say that teenage drivers are more likely to cause a car accident because they were distracted.

Teenage Love Of Texting

Teens are more likely to become distracted and cause a car accident because they are more likely to engage in one of the most distracting activities while behind the wheel — texting. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens and drivers under age 25 are three times more likely to send or receive a text message while driving.

Texting while driving has been the subject of many private and government studies that have all confirmed that it is one of the worst things that one can do behind the wheel (except perhaps driving blindfolded). According to distraction.gov, texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident than those who are paying attention to the road.

Additionally, texting takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, diverting a driver's attention long enough for the car to cross a football field, assuming the car is traveling at 55 mph.

A Not-So-Developed Mind

Human development also explains why teens are more likely to become distracted and cause an accident. By the time many teens start driving, many are not able to focus effectively on a task because they cannot fully control their emotion or attention — a skill called regulatory compliance.

The skill of regulatory compliance comes from the prefrontal cortex, which is the brain's control center. As the prefrontal cortex develops more slowly than other parts of the brain, many teens possess an underdeveloped one and find themselves unable to focus on a challenging task such as driving.

Unfortunately, other areas of the average teenage driver's brain, such as the limbic system (controls feelings of arousal and reward) are fully developed. As a result, when teens are exposed to a stimulant, such as the ringing of a cellphone, their limbic system overrides their prefrontal cortex, diverting their focus from driving and making it more likely that they will be involved in a car accident.

If Injured, Seek An Attorney

Florida law requires drivers, young and old, to operate their vehicles in a manner that does not put other drivers at an unreasonable risk of harm. Drivers who cannot resist the temptation of answering a text or catching up with a friend unnecessarily put others at risk of injury or death, and thus are liable for damages under the law. If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your right to compensation.