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The first few years of driving for teenagers present the greatest danger. Annually, over 400,000 people are injured in auto accidents where one or more drivers were aged 16 to 20. The risks of being in a car accident are higher for that age group than for any other.

Some experts say that the frequency of teen traffic accidents is due to a combination of inexperience and overconfidence in driving abilities. Others narrow it down further, with distracted driving due to handheld electronic devices being one of the most cited triggers for car collisions. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that inattention—including all forms of distracted driving—was one of the three most important causes for the majority of car accidents when teens were behind the wheel.

Technology to the Rescue?

One fact is notable in the statistics for teen driving accidents: when Mom or Dad is riding along with their teenager, accidents are very unlikely. Road safety experts suspect that this sudden improvement in driving safety happens because parents will not permit teen drivers to use cell phones while driving. The question then becomes: how can we make sure teens turn off their electronic devices even when parents aren’t in the car?

The result has been a flood of smart phone applications that attempt to accomplish exactly that. Each app is available for a variety of phone operating systems, and most have modest costs (and a few are free). Most rely on motion sensor technology. When the cell phone is moving above a minimal rate of speed—about 10 miles per hour—the ability to call out, receive calls, or use text messaging services may be shut off. Of course, each app has a different set of functions and features. Many have an “instant disable” function that allows the cell phone owner to make a call in an emergency situation—and some of those will simultaneously send an e-mail message to parents to notify them that the suppression feature has been turned off.

It’s too soon to tell for certain whether these apps will have a significant impact on North Carolina traffic accidents by teenage drivers. The programs, which rely on smart phones’ global positioning circuits to determine when a car is in motion, will disable cells phones for teens who are passengers—as well as drivers—in a moving vehicle; this might prove unappealing to consumers over the long term. It’s probably true that these programs will be a useful step toward limiting some distracted driving, but we should not pin our hopes on a major improvement in teenage auto accident rates.

When North Carolina Distracted Driving Touches Your Life

If your friend or family member has been injured due to a reckless teenage driver or a distracted driver of any age, you should seek out advice from a Wilmington car accident lawyer. The attorneys at Speaks Law Firm offer a FREE copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book to anyone who calls 877-593-4233 (toll-free) and requests a free consultation about his or her traffic accident case.