Protecting Buffalo School Children from Brain Injuries & Other Sporting Injuries

22
Sep 2014
By: James Morris Law

Playing sports has many health benefits for kids, as youth who participate in athletics learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle and may have a higher self esteem. Kids who participate in sports can also learn important skills like how to lose graciously and how to be a good team player. Unfortunately, despite the myriad benefits associated with participation in school sports, there are also very serious health risks that can occur.

A personal injury lawyer knows that most parents are especially concerned about the risks of head injury that football can cause. However, football is not the only potentially dangerous sport. As WCYB reports, other high risk sports include basketball, cheerleading and soccer.

Head injuries are also not the only risk that kids face when they play sports. It is important for parents, student athletes and school athletic departments to understand the dangers associated with athletic participation. Schools are in the best position to keep student athletes safe in most cases, and schools can be held accountable if kids sustain injuries as a result of negligence or safety lapses.

Preventing Injuries from School Sports

Action News 19 has a list of some key safety tips as kids start back to school and begin participating in sporting events again. For example, to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Kids who will be participating in a team sport should start an exercise program around four to six weeks before the sports season actually begins.
  • Kids should be slowly acclimatized to practicing or playing outdoors. The acclimatization process should occur over the first 10 days to two weeks of practice as they amount of time the kids spend outside is slowly increased.
  • Kids should be given plenty of opportunity to take rest breaks and should consume plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to allow time for a break every 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Kids need to have protective gear whenever they practice or play. Schools need to make sure that the protective gear is in good condition, appropriate for the particular sport and fitted properly to the child athlete.

Following these safety tips can help prevent many injuries that could occur, but kids always remain at risk of head injuries in any contact sport or sport where they could be hit in the head with a ball. Parents and athletic departments need to know the signs of concussion, such as dizziness, sensitivity to light and disorientation. A prompt medical evaluation should take place if there is a concussion suspected and the child should not continue to play sports until cleared by a medical professional.

Unfortunately, once a child has a concussion, the damage cannot be undone. A child is at risk of long-term complications including depression, an increased chance of suicide, and an increased chance of developing dementia. The effects of head injuries are cumulative so the more head injuries a child suffers, the greater the likelihood of long-term complications.

Contact a Buffalo, NY accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040 or visit http://www.jamesmorrislaw.com.  Attorney advertising.

Rochester and Buffalo Traffic Accidents: School Buses an Autumn Risk

21
Aug 2014
By: James Morris Law

A fatal collision in Monroe County left 35-school children traumatized recently. According to Time Warner Cable News, a driver ran a stop sign and was hit by the bus in which the children were riding. The driver was killed. Five of the children aboard the bus required medical attention but fortunately none were seriously hurt. Not all children are so lucky when involved in a bus collision.

School buses are reportedly the safest way for children to commute to and from school. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just one percent of kids who lose their lives in fatal school transportation accidents die involving collisions with school buses.

Still, accidents do happen. An NHTSA Fact Sheet reveals that a total of 1,222 fatal accidents resulted in kids dying while commuting to or from school from 2003 to 2012. In total, 119 of the kids who died were killed in pedestrian accidents involving a school bus and 55 were killed while riding a school bus. If a child is injured or killed when commuting to school, a personal injury lawyer can help parents to pursue a claim for compensation.

Preventing School Bus Accidents

The NHTSA’s website, Kids, the School Bus and You, provides safety tips for drivers to keep kids safe as children commute to school and provides safety tips for kids who take the bus to school.

To prevent accidents, drivers are urged to:

  • Be on the lookout for kids who are walking to school before pulling out of driveways.
  • Watch or signs indicating that you are in a school zone and follow the lower speed limit while looking carefully for kids.
  • Be especially vigilant in looking for kids walking to school in areas where there are no sidewalks for kids to walk on.
  • Follow the legal rules and stop for school buses that have red flashing lights and an extended stop arm. Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean that it is time for drivers to prepare to stop.

To prevent accidents involving school buses, kids are urged to:

  • Get to the bus stop five minutes or more before the scheduled time of arrival.
  • Stay six feet, or three giant steps, away from the curb while waiting and before boarding the bus.
  • Line up in the direction away from the street while waiting to board the bus.
  • Wait until the bus has stopped completely and the driver has said that it is OK before trying to get on the bus.
  • Use the handrails when getting on and off of the bus to avoid falls.
  • Leave at least 10 feet between you and the bus when you are crossing. Always cross in front of the bus and never get behind the bus.
  • Leave at least 3 large steps, or six feet, between you and the side of the bus.
  • Avoid stooping or bending down to pick up any dropped items unless you have first told the driver that you are going to do so, as bus drivers may not see you if you are bending over.

Parents should remind kids of these best practices for safety in order to reduce the chances that a school bus accident will occur during this school year. If kids and drivers do their part, hopefully children will be able to commute to and from school without a collision occurring.

If you need an injury attorney in Rochester or Buffalo, contact the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040.  Attorney advertising.

Buffalo Driver Safety Around Large Commercial Trucks

24
Jul 2014
By: James Morris Law

Truck accidents are often deadly because the force and size of the truck can have a devastating impact on a standard passenger vehicle. Truckers need to do their part to operate their vehicles safely and to follow the rules of the road. However, drivers also need to understand the risks that truck accidents present and should do everything possible to avoid becoming an accident victim.

Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the number of truck accident deaths is on the rise. This is an important wake-up call to motorists to remember to follow safety rules. Those who are hurt or people whose family members are killed in a trucking accident should also consult with a personal injury lawyer for help pursuing a claim for compensation.

Truck Accident Death Rate Rising

The NHTSA data showed that the number of truck accident deaths increased from 2011 to 2012. There were 3,921 people killed in large truck accidents in 2012, which was a four percent increase compared with the number killed in 2011.

Large trucks are defined by the NHTSA as vehicles that have a gross weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. Trucks meeting this description were in a total of 330,000 accidents over the course of 2012. In total over the course of that year, there were 104,000 people injured in truck collisions in addition to the almost 4,000 deaths.

Truck accidents were most likely to cause fatalities to non-truck occupants. Drivers and passengers in other vehicles accounted for 73 percent of the victims who lose their lives in collisions with large trucks. People who were not in any vehicle at all accounted for 10 percent of the deaths and truckers made up 18 percent of victims.

The number of people who were not vehicle occupants who were killed in truck crashes went down in 2012, but there was a significant increase in both trucker fatalities and in fatalities among occupants of other vehicles. Five percent more people in other vehicles died in 2012 and nine percent more truckers were killed.

Because trucks can be so dangerous and cause such a significant risk of death among people in cars, motorists need to ensure that they are doing everything possible to try to reduce the risk they will become involved in an accident. Geico has provided some tips to drivers to follow related to truck blind spots; truck stopping distances; and passing.

Drivers are urged to remember that trucks have larger blind spots than passenger cars. To tell whether a trucker can see you or not, check if you can see him in the truck’s mirrors. If you cannot, you are in the “no-zone” or blind spot and you are at risk because the trucker is not able to see you.

Drivers should also be sure that they can see the truck’s front in their rear view mirror before pulling over when passing and should avoid ever cutting off a truck because trucks have such large blind spots.

Contact a Buffalo personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040 or visit http://www.jamesmorrislaw.com.  Attorney advertising.

Why is the Summer So Risky for Teenage Drivers?

23
Jun 2014
By: James Morris Law

From Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2012, almost 1,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving teenage drivers. According to CNN, more than 550 of the fatalities were teenagers.

With so many deaths during this time, it is no wonder the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been dubbed the 100 Deadliest Days. The National Safety Council has reported that in 2012, there were 327 deaths in June, 319 deaths in July and 286 deaths in August.

Teens are in danger in the summer because of graduation and summer break. With more time to be on the roads, student accidents are more likely to occur and cause injuries or fatalities. An experienced attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris can represent victims of collisions and help them to obtain compensation from those who were responsible.

The Summer is High Risk for Teens

There are a lot of reasons why the summer is such a dangerous time for teen drivers.

One problem is that there are simply more people on the roads in the summer, which increases the chance of a crash. The NSC indicates that Americans drove more than 780 million miles from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2012. People tend to go on vacations and are out more — and more traffic means more risk.

Teenagers also have a lot more time to drive in the summer, since they do not have to be in class all day. A lot of this time is unsupervised, as their parents are at work. Later curfews during summer months  also means a lot of night driving. Operating a vehicle at night is more dangerous than daytime driving, especially for inexperienced drivers.

Because teens tend to have free time, they may go to different places than they would during the school year, and they are also more likely to drive recreationally. As a result, they may be on unfamiliar roads and thus more likely to get hurt or killed in a crash.

While all of these are concerns, CNN indicates that one of the biggest reasons why more teens die during the 100 Deadliest Days is that they tend to drive in cars with friends. Having passengers in the car can up the chances that a teen driver will be involved in a collision by as much as 44 percent.

Parents who know about other dangers such as drunk and distracted driving, may underestimate the risks associated with driving with passengers in the car. It is important for parents to be aware of the dangers and to set clear rules for their children regarding how many passengers can be in the car at a time. These rules should apply not just if their own son or daughter is driving, but also before their son or daughter gets into the car with someone else at the wheel.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9044 or visit http://www.jamesmorrislaw.com.  Attorney advertising.

Top Causes of Buffalo Construction Accidents in Focus

The New York Daily News recently argued that the scaffold law in New York should be repealed because it stunts growth. The scaffold law says that developers and building owners are strictly liable for injuries resulting from unsafe scaffolding. Critics argue this has caused liability costs to rise dramatically and building projects are being stymied because the scaffolding law constitutes a “major tax” on construction work.

The reality, however, is that workers are at serious risk of being hurt in scaffolding accidents any time they perform work at elevated heights. Falls are one of the four leading causes of construction accident deaths each year – there were 47 workers killed in fall accidents in New York in 2012 alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers who are injured in a fall accident or family members of those killed by a fall, should contact a workplace accident lawyer in Buffalo.

OSHA Advises on Top Causes of Construction Accidents

Rather than trying to avoid responsibility for situations when workers are hurt in scaffolding accidents, it would be far better for employers, developers and building owners to focus on ways to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identifies the top four causes of deaths in the construction industry and provides tips on preventing fatalities from these cases.  According to OSHA, the majority of deaths of construction workers occur as a result of:

  • Worker falls
  • Workers getting hit by objects
  • Workers getting caught in or caught between items
  • Electrocution

OSHA’s advice for preventing injuries based on these top causes of death include:

  • Making use of an appropriate fall arrest system and/or personal fall protection whenever work is done at a high elevation.
  • Establishing and maintaining appropriate perimeter protection.
  • Making sure that all openings in the floor or ground are covered securely and that the cover is labeled.
  • Following all safety rules and best practices for the use of both scaffolding and ladders, as well as other platforms.
  • Observing carefully where moving equipment and moving objects are and avoiding getting between those objects and a fixed object.
  • Wearing visible, bright clothing whenever equipment or vehicles are being operated.
  • Putting proper protection systems into place including benching, a shield system, shoring or sloping whenever trenching is done or excavation is ongoing.
  • Avoiding excavation areas and trenches that are five feet deep or more without adequate protection.
  • Locating overhead electrical wiring as well as other utilities before beginning to perform any construction work.
  • Maintaining a safe distance from electrical wiring and utilities, especially when utilizing ladders, scaffolding and other equipment.
  • Using portable tools only if the tools are grounded or double insulated.
  • Using ground fault circuit interrupters.

By keeping these important safety tips in mind, workers can do their part to reduce the risk of being hurt or killed on the job. Employers, too, need to focus on training, OSHA compliance and safety precautions and should be dedicating their efforts to making workplaces safer rather than to repealing laws that provides an added measure of protection in a dangerous industry.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040.  Attorney advertising.

Buffalo Traffic Accidents & Hands-Free Cell Phone Risks

15
Apr 2014
By: James Morris Law

Many drivers try to do the right thing by using a hands-free system when they use their phones in the car. Hands-free control makes it possible for people to talk on the phone, but also to text, read or send emails and do other tasks on electronic devices.

Unfortunately, the reality is that you aren’t any safer using a hands-free device than you would be using a cell phone and holding it. You still take your focus off the road, which makes you more likely to cause a motor vehicle collision. You could hurt yourself or others and be held legally responsible for injuries. Texting accident driving attorneys in Buffalo can help those injured by distracted drivers.

Hands-Free Systems Still Can be Dangerous

According to Cars.com, 80 percent of drivers surveyed across the United States said that they believed that it was safer to use a hands-free phone system than to use a handheld phone system while driving. Around 70 percent of motorists who currently use hands-free systems said that they do so because of safety concerns.

These hands-free systems may be making things worse because drivers assume they aren’t at risk and are more comfortable spending a longer time on the phone. This problem is made worse because state laws lend support to this idea. As USA Today reports, there are total bans on using handheld devices in 12 states and there are bans on texting in 43 states. There are not any bans anywhere on the use of hands-free devices, so drivers just naturally assume that they are OK to be on the phone.

These drivers don’t realize that the center of their brain devoted to seeing visual activities is 1/3 less active when there are using their hands-free kit. As the National Safety Council (NSC) shows, the brain can’t multitask but is forced to switch back and forth between the phone use and the focus on what’s going on in the car. The brain doesn’t do this really effectively and around 50 percent of the visual information you should see outside your windshield is missed.

The result is that motorists on hands-free kits are just as likely, if not more likely, to crash. Recent studies have suggested that a person using voice-to-text is more distracted than someone who is texting using the handheld phone. Voice-to-text can also take longer to complete than just sending a regular text, so drivers are less focused on the road and are distracted for a longer time.

Around nine percent of drivers on the road at any given time are using a hands-free device, and these drivers are responsible for a lot of accidents. In total, there were 3,327 driving deaths because of distracted driving in 2012 and around 26 percent of the total number of motor vehicle collisions nationwide involved a driver on a phone.  

Most safety experts believe the best way to solve this is a total ban on all phone use, including with a hands-free device. Until the law changes, though, drivers will just have to police themselves and make the commitment to turn their phones off or keep them out of reach in the car.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040.  Attorney advertising.

Distraction a Common Factor in Buffalo Collisions as New York Weighs Options

States including New York are considering regulation of a device called Google Glass, which looks like a pair of glasses and allows users to surf the Internet, take photographs, check-email and even watch videos – all with a blink.

The technology is pretty amazing – but perhaps not so much while driving. State lawmakers have requested direction from the department of motor vehicles on how a behind-the-wheel ban on the devices might be enforced.

Buffalo accident lawyers at The Law Offices of James Morris recognize that as it stands, distracted driving is a major factor in automobile collisions.

How many accidents are caused by distracted drivers?

The issue of driver distraction may be even more serious than previously anticipated. New research indicates that many crashes caused by distraction are instead categorized simply as “careless driving” in traffic citation records.

There may be some instances wherein drivers are cited for prohibited use of a handheld device (New York state bans texting and the use of all handheld cell phone devices while driving), more often than not, distraction can be difficult to prove.

For one thing, it’s not like drunk driving, where a test can determine whether drivers were negligent at the time of a crash. Phone records, witness statements and other evidence may be used to piece it together, but there is often no definitive determination.

Plus, there are more forms of distraction today than ever.

Let’s start with cell phones. In May of 2011, 35 percent of Americans owned a smartphone. By May 2013, 56 percent of people owned a smartphone.

Then there are devices like Google Glass. While it offers features like navigation, these elements have proven distracting to the person behind the wheel. But again, it can be tough to prove. A woman in California was pulled over and cited by a state trooper for “having a TV screen visible while driving.” Some 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws against it. However, the ticket was eventually tossed because there was a lack of evidence to prove the device had been enabled while she was driving.

Studies shed light on dangers of in-dash vehicle technology

More than ever, technological devices are coming standard-issue with the latest models of vehicles in the form of “infotainment” centers build right into the dash. Common features include GPS mapping technology, hands-free dialing and speech-to-text, Internet searches and even videos and games.

While car manufacturers have promised that these systems are safe and will actually help to reduce distractions, the research that is emerging suggests those assertions fall short of the truth.

For example, a recent AAA study indicates that speech-to-text phone or e-mail systems, the kind that are common in the latest infotainment offerings, are even more dangerous than listening to the radio or using a handheld cell phone.

Where companies are working on ways to integrate even more speech recognition software into vehicles, AAA warns that this will make the roads inherently more dangerous.

Anytime your hands are off the wheel or your eyes and attention are off the road, there is a danger. It need not be technologically-driven. Distraction comes in many different forms, be it your children in the back seat, the pets in your lap or the Google Glass on your head.

For the most part, whatever it is can wait until the car is in park.

Contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040.  Attorney advertising.

Reducing New York Traffic Deaths Aim of “Vision Zero”

New York City Mayor Michael de Blasio has recently made headlines with his controversial “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate traffic deaths.

Of course, what’s riling folks is not that the plan seeks to dramatically reduce the number of car accident fatalities. Rather, the controversy stems from the fact that, per the mayor, this goal should be a greater priority for law enforcement officials than other anti-crime efforts.

On the surface, this may seem cold. But when you start to delve into the numbers, accident attorneys in Buffalo know the numbers support the mayor’s focus.

In 2011, state law enforcement officials report there were a total of 770 murders reported in New York. That represented a decrease of 11 percent from just a year earlier.

Meanwhile that same year, the National Highway Transportation & Safety Association reports that there were 1,169 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in New York State. This represented a reduction of just 3 percent from a year earlier. What’s more, it’s nearly 52 percent higher than the number of murders committed that year.

When you tally up the total number of crashes in New York state in 2011, there were approximately 308,000. As a result, more than 128,000 people sustained injuries and another 179,000 were left with property damage.

Meanwhile, there were a total of 77,000 people who were victims of violent crime.

Again, this is no small matter and certainly deserves our attention. But when we explore the best allocation of resources, it becomes clear that traffic safety exacts a higher human toll.

This is the argument upon which de Blasio’s plan is based. Perhaps other cities in New York would do well to take a page from his playbook.

The “Vision Zero” initiative is undoubtedly a big undertaking, involving more than 60 actions that range from reducing the city’s speed limit from 30 miles-per-hour to 25-miles-per hour to installing “black box” data recorders in taxicabs to document the speed.

While the issue has been one de  Blasio has stressed throughout his political career, it is one that gained momentum following numerous deaths in a series of high-profile crashes. At a single intersection, three people were killed over the course of a 10-day span.

Modeled after a Swedish traffic safety plan, Vision Zero will involve increasing the New York Police Department’s Highway Division to 263 officers – a significant boost from the 190 that are currently in place. More officers in each precinct will be devoted to traffic safety enforcement, and the department will be instructed to purchase more “speed guns” in order to catch speeding drivers.

The plan will also incorporate the dedication of enough funds to redesign some 50 streets and intersections every single year with the goal of improving accessibility and safety not just for drivers, but also bicyclists and  pedestrians. This will involve the installation of speed bumps, electronic flashing speed warning lights, wider shoulders and improved lighting.

More residential “slow zones’ will be established, where drivers will be required to slow to 20-miles-per-hour, and pedestrians will get the benefit of additional crosswalks, curb extensions and median islands.

Finally, penalties for dangerous drivers will be increased.

If you’ve been injured, contact a Buffalo accident attorney at the Law Offices of James Morris at 1-800-477-9040. Attorney advertising.

Elderly Fall Accidents Target of New Federal Bed Rail Guidelines

The dangers of adult bed rails to the elderly – particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia – have been known for some time.

However, as The New York Times has reported, despite more than 150 deaths and and nearly 37,000 emergency room treatments from bed rail injuries, neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had done anything about it. Both agencies bickered over which hadregulatory authority, warring over whether the rails were medical devices (the FDA’s territory) or consumer goods (under the CPSC’s purview).

FDA Rules That Bed Rails Are Medical Devices

That is now changing. The Buffalo personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of James Morris note the FDA has assumed oversight of the rails, deeming them medical devices. They are now working to organize a committee to update voluntary standards for manufacturers.

Bed rails, if you aren’t familiar, are the plastic or metal bars that are used on some hospital beds and in home care to help patients pull themselves up or help them get out of bed. They can also prevent people from falling out of bed.

However, they have proven to be especially dangerous to adults with dementia.

The FDA reports that of those adult bed rail deaths reported over the last decade, most occurred at home. However, 25 happened at nursing homes, 15 at assisted living centers, and 3 at hospice facilities.

How Bed Rails Can Be Dangerous

The most common causes of death or injury related to bed rails were falls and entrapment.

In cases of entrapment, victims were reportedly stuck, wedged, caught or trapped between the mattress and the rail bars or between the toilet and the rail. In some cases, victims were stuck between the floor and the rail or the headboard and the rail. Most commonly, it was the head and/or neck that was caught. Other injuries were seen to the lower leg and foot, as well as to numerous scrapes and cuts and sometimes broken bones.

Falls, on the other hand, generally happened when a person fell off the rail, climbed over it or fell because the rail wasn’t properly raised.

The new FDA committee will be steered by ASTM International, which is responsible for developing and publishing voluntary technical standards for a large array of products.

It remains to be seen whether a new set of updated voluntary standards for the product will have much impact. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., has been an outspoken advocate for reform with regard to adult bed rails. He called the response “tepid,” saying that voluntary standards were implemented before, and people have continued to suffer injury and death. He’s skeptical that this effort will be different.

The FDA first received warning of numerous deaths involving the devices back in 1995. Four years later, the agency formed a working group that involved manufacturers, patient advocates and researchers. At the time, the FDA mulled whether to require warning labels, but decided against that after receiving heavy push back from manufacturers.

Voluntary guidelines were implemented back in 2006, directing nursing homes and hospitals on safe use. However, there have been more than a half dozen deaths since then.

While we await new guidelines, it is recommended before installation that caregivers and nursing homes understand that not all bed rails are interchangeable. Bear in mind, they are not to be used as restraint devices, but rather to aid getting in and out of bed and preventing falls.

Anyone whose loved one has suffered a bed-rail-related injury in New York should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact the Law Offices of James Morris in Buffalo today for a free consultation. Call 800-477-9044 or visit www.jamesmorrislaw.com. Attorney advertising.


Buffalo Teen Car Accident Risks on the Rise

One 15-year-old was killed and her 13-year-old sister critically injured recently in a New York car accident, when their 19-year-old brother reportedly struck another vehicle while making a U-turn.

After the initial hit, investigators say the older teen struck several parking meters and then a utility pole. The youngest of the three was ejected. The 15-year-old was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

At The Law Offices of James Morris, our Buffalo car accident lawyers haveseen far too many cases where young lives were lost prematurely due to negligence on the roads. We don’t yet know the cause of this crash – that’s still under investigation. What we do know is that with prom and graduation right around the corner, it’s imperative that parents initiate a conversation with their teens about safe driving.

Other Teens Remain a Significant Distraction for Young Drivers

One of the biggest issues for teens to overcome is distraction. One of the greatest distractions? Other teens.

When a young driver has a group of peers in the vehicle, the risk of a crash rises with each additional passenger. In fact, most teens who are killed in auto accidents are passengers in vehicles driven by other teens, according to the New York State Department of Health.  This is particularly relevant as we approach spring, with formal dances and graduation parties galore. Arranging for a professional driver (a limousine for formal event, maybe a taxi for informal events) may alleviate your fears regarding this issue.

Bear in mind too that as of February 2010, it’s been illegal in New York State for a junior licensed driver to have more than one passenger under the age of 21 in his or her vehicle absent a parent, guardian or driving instructor.

As a parent, you may consider extending that rule until your child reaches the age of 18.

The other biggest distraction, of course, is the cell phone. Research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development indicate that teens who text and drive are nearly four times as likely to crash as a teen who isn’t texting. Dialing a phone was even worse, making teens 8.3 times more likely to crash than peers who weren’t dialing. (Compare that to experienced drivers, whose risk was 2.5 times greater than their non-dialing counterparts.)

Those same researchers, whose work was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, learned that teens start out very cautious when they begin to drive. However, as time passes, they start to engage in riskier and riskier behaviors, like texting, talking to passengers and eating. Specifically, during the first six months of having a license, teens were far less likely than experienced drivers to engage in secondary tasks. However, between months 7 and 15 of having a license, teen drivers matched their older counterparts in secondary tasks. During months 16 through 18, they had exceeded more experienced drivers in distractions.

In other words, their sense of confidence behind the wheel quickly becomes inflated.

New York has one of the toughest cell phone laws on the books, banning all drivers – not just teens –  from using handheld phones and texting behind the wheel.

The other major issue for teen drivers, particularly around prom and graduation, is drinking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2011, 32 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were killed in crashes had been drinking.

Parents should make sure their teens understand that there will  be zero tolerance for such actions, but also that your teen can call you without retribution to come get him or her and avoid either driving drunk or riding with a drunk driver.

Contact the Law Offices of James Morris in Buffalo today for a free consultation. Call 800-477-9044 or visit www.jamesmorrislaw.comAttorney advertising.