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Auto accident rates caused by distraction continue to rise

These blogs are posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

The number of accidents involving distracted drivers continues to increase in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that auto accident deaths and injuries linked to driver distraction increased by 10 percent over the past five years. However, psychologists say people should not be discouraged. In time, with proper public outreach, those numbers will begin to fall.

It seems as if the campaign to end texting and driving may be working. One study shows that only 25 percent of teens admit they still text behind the wheel. However, over two thirds say they use phone apps or functions while driving and believe it is safer than texting.

Psychologists say that telling people distracted driving is dangerous does not work if they are able to do so without serious repercussions. In other words, every time a person -- especially a teen -- drives with a smartphone in hand without causing an accident, he or she receives positive reinforcement that it is not so dangerous. This is particularly treacherous for the youngest drivers because, according to psychologists, teens already have a feeling of being invincible.

When asked which apps are safest to use while driving, people responded with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as the top three. Additionally, 79 percent of those surveyed felt it is safe to make phone calls often or use their phone's GPS function. More than half of survey responders use their phones for music, texting or checking alerts while they are driving.

Despite laws and public service announcements, a driver using a cell phone is a common sight in Pennsylvania. The CDC reports that nearly one in every five crashes involves some form of distraction. While psychologists believe that positive reinforcement will change people's cell phone behavior, those involved in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver may not be willing to offer that positive feedback. In fact, they have every right to consult an attorney for help in holding the negligent driver responsible for his or her actions.

This blog entry was posted on behalf of Seidel, Cohen, Hof & Reid, LLC, and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the firm or its attorneys. The information presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

Source: cars.com, "This Is Your Brain on Apps: The Distracted Driving Dilemma", Matt Schmitz, Oct. 3, 2016

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