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The dangers of distracted driving

With the sharp rise in cellphone use among drivers in Louisiana and across the U.S. over the last decade, distracted driving has become a very important safety topic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 421,000 people were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers in 2012, and 3,328 people were killed.

Authorities consider distracted driving to be any activity that draws someone's attention away from driving, whether it be visual, manual or cognitive. Examples include talking or texting on a cellphone, using in-vehicle navigation or audio systems and eating. Sadly, Americans rank as some of the most distracted drivers in the world. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comparing U.S. drivers to drivers in seven European countries found Americans used their cellphones while driving at a higher rate than Europeans. For example, 69 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 reported they had used their cellphones while driving within the previous 30 days, compared to 21 percent of United Kingdom drivers and 59 percent of Portuguese drivers.

Texting and driving is considered the most dangerous distraction, because it demands more of a driver's attention than other activities. The problem is more prevalent among young, inexperienced drivers. The CDC reports that nearly half of all American high school students over the age of 16 text while driving. Students who text and drive are also more likely to make other poor driving decisions, such as drinking and driving or agreeing to ride with someone who is drinking and driving.

While new laws and public awareness are helping, distracted driving still ruins many lives each year. Anyone who has suffered serious injuries due to the actions of a distracted driver may wish to consult with an attorney. It may be possible to obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Distracted Driving", accessed on Feb. 10, 2015

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