Over the past decade or so, states have struggled to control a relatively new traffic problem: distracted driving. While drivers have let themselves become distracted by the radio, food, makeup and passengers for decades, once cellphones became widely available, the number of distracted driving auto accidents skyrocketed.

Teenage drivers have been behind much of the trend. Studies show that drivers aged 16-19 are among the most likely to use their smartphones while driving. Teens like to text, look at apps, and communicate on social media behind the wheel. They may not believe so, but by choosing to take some of their focus off the road, they are exposing other people to serious risk of death or permanent disability in a crash. All it takes is a few moments of inattention for a driver to drift out of their lane, miss a red light or fail to yield on a left turn.

Long-term study shows effect of anti-distracted driver laws

The good news is state laws that restrict or outright ban the use of handheld smartphones and other devices while driving seems to have had a positive impact on young drivers. A recently published study found that the broader the phone ban was, the greater the reduction in car accident fatalities from 2007-17.

In that decade, the U.S. had 38,215 drivers aged 16-19 who were involved in fatal wrecks. However, states that had texting and driving bans had lower fatalities rates among teen drivers. And states with more comprehensive distracted driving bans saw fewer fatalities across all age groups. Currently, Michigan bans texting and driving for all drivers, but otherwise allows cellphone use for drivers without a graduated drivers license.

Getting fair compensation after a distracted driver injures you

Bans on cellphone use behind the wheel work. But they have not eliminated the problem. While reduced in number, distracted drivers are still out there on our country’s highways and streets. If you or your family have been affected by a distracted driver, a qualified personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options.