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Preventing a car accident: The dangers of distracted driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set aside this month to remind and educate drivers of the dangers of distracted driving. Anyone who has ever been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident might agree that if these efforts prevent even one unnecessary accident, then it was worth it.

Data gathered by the NHTSA from across the country indicates that throughout 2013, no less than 3,154 people died and 424,000 people suffered injuries in accidents where at least one driver was somehow distracted. That translates to roughly 16 percent of all traffic accidents that occurred in the United States in 2013. Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that 10 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 19 during 2013 who were involved in deadly crashes were distracted at the time.

Many states have enacted legislation regarding cell phone use while driving. Here in Louisiana, texting and using social media while driving are illegal, and cell phone use by novice drivers is prohibited. Cell phone use appears to be the number one cause of distracted driving, but any activity -- such as eating or talking -- can divert a driver's attention from the road.

Driving is an incredible responsibility that many people inadvertently take for granted. It is not until they are involved in a car accident that they are reminded of the fragility of life. A distracted driver could not only face criminal repercussions for failing to pay attention to the road, but could pay a hefty financial price as well. Victims and their families sustain emotional, physical and financial losses in accidents, and a Louisiana court may determine that they are entitled to restitution from the party or parties deemed responsible.

Source: fox8live.com, "Safety officials remind public of 'Distracted Driving Awareness Month'", April 14, 2015