The California Office of Traffic Safety is reporting that teenage drivers are the least likely drivers to obey existing state laws against distracted driving. This is doubly concerning because teenage drivers are considered to be the most at-risk of a traffic fatality caused by distracted driving.
Repeated studies have shown that teenagers are the most likely users of handheld devices, opting for a smartphone over a laptop, netbook, tablet computer or pc, nearly nine times out of ten. They are also inexperienced drivers meaning they already have an increased risk of causing or being involved in a serious traffic collision. When handheld devices are added to the mix their chance of having a serious crash sky rockets.
The OTS study also found that 46 percent of young drivers felt that they were perfectly capable of driving a motor vehicle while using a cellphone and that the distraction was not an issue. Many young drivers feel like they are immune to the dangers of driving distracted and believe it is not going to be them who are involved in a motor vehicle accident; they are the exception to the rule.
It is for this and other reasons that California increased its efforts recent years to ban driving while using a cellphone. In 2008, when the law went to effect, the authorities issued approximately 300,000 tickets for violating the cellphone ban. In 2011 alone, police handed out about 500,000 tickets. The penalty for driving while using a cellphone is $159 for a first offense and $259 for a second offense.
A potential monetary fine may not be a deterrent for some California drivers, but what should be of real concern are the other dangers. A motorist who willfully drives distracted by using a cellphone while operating a vehicle is taking an unnecessary risk for themselves, their passengers and the other drivers on the road. The likelihood of an accident increases when a driver does not pay full attention to the operation of a vehicle. Severe accidents can have long-term repercussions and can even be fatal.