Most of us are not surprised when new studies come out showing the prevalence of distracted driving, particularly among teenagers. Numerous studies, and our guts, tell us that a lot of teens engage in this dangerous behavior. What we may be surprised by, though, is the extent to which distracted driving is a problem among teens.

According to a new study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic safety, 58 percent of moderate to severe car accidents involving teenagers were caused by distracted driving, whether because of cell phone use or because of the presence of another passenger in the vehicle. In coming up with this number, AAA looked at a total of 1,700 videos involving teen accidents. The number is apparently 4 times greater than previous estimates which were based on police reports. 

The study found that use of cell phones and talking with other passengers in the vehicle are major causes of accidents among teens. Because of this, AAA is urging more states to adopt measures prohibiting cell phone use by teens and to restrict teens to having no more than one non-family member in the vehicle during the first six months of legal driving.

Here in Massachusetts, state law prohibits all drivers from sending, typing and reading an electronic message to or from a handheld device. State law also prohibits all use of handheld electronic devices by minor drivers. Enforcement of these laws is not necessarily easy, though, and teen drivers are a difficult crowd to expect perfect compliance from. The truth is, drivers in every age group need to improve in this area.

Those who are harmed by a distracted driver, of course, have the right to seek compensation for their injuries and losses. Working with an experienced attorney is important to ensure one receives the advocacy their case deserves.