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One of the most common and dangerous distractions for teens behind the wheel are cell phones, even in states with distracted driving laws. Coupled with their lack of driving experience, adds to the risk that teen drivers will be involved in auto accidents.

A 17-year-old girl has been charged in connection with a 10-vehicle crash last week, allegedly caused while she was distracted by her cell phone.

According to police, the teen was the first car stopped at a red light; she was preparing to turn left. Then, distracted by her phone, she turned left through the intersection although the light had not changed to green. The teen clipped a dump truck, which turned onto its side and skidded across the roadway. The truck was filled with dirt, which fell into cars and on the roadway.

The crash sparked a ten-vehicle pile-up. Four people were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The distracted teen driver was charged with a red light violation and an interim license violation for someone under 18 using a cellphone, according to reports.

Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can be deadly, especially when combined with inexperience and/or immaturity. Police said it is amazing no one was more seriously injured in this recent crash given the nature of the crash and the number of vehicles involved.

Teens need to understand that they are not invincible and that they, as well as passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists can be seriously injured or even killed in a distracted driving accident. Some states have enacted laws against texting and driving or using a cell phone while driving, but it is simply not enough to stop this negligent behavior and prevent accidents.

Parents need to help put the brakes on this distracted driving epidemic. Set an example by not talking or using your cell phone while driving, set and enforce rules, and most importantly, talk to your kids about the dangers of all distractions – talking on the phone, texting, too many passengers, changing audio and climate controls in the vehicle, reading a GPS, and eating or drinking while driving.

Additionally, wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet, too many teens are not buckling up and neither are their passengers. Speeding is another risky and dangerous behavior by teens. In 2014, almost one-third (30%) of teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time of the crash. Remind your teen to drive within the speed limit.

Set the rules before your teens hit the road, and continue the conversations on a regular basis before we experience more serious injuries and deaths that are completely preventable. Parents should never underestimate their influence or the effectiveness of repeating themselves, over and over again. But, it is not just about parents – educators and community leaders need to also focus on making safety a priority to help teens make better, safer choices behind the wheel. Lawsuit Financial hopes this case sends a message.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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