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Competition may lessen distracted driving car accidents

Because of the alarming number of fatalities that result from distracted driving, a joint venture of a Pennsylvania newspaper and AT&T will focus on creating an awareness of the potential repercussions of cell phone use while driving. A competition was launched for secondary school students across Pennsylvania. This is part of a state-wide competition where students have to write an essay in answer to a question about texting and driving and the potential car accidents that may result.

The question "Why is it important to take the 'It Can Wait' pledge to never text and drive?" has to be answered. The best essay in the form of an editorial or column in Pennsylvania will earn the writer $500. The closing date for submissions is Feb. 25, and the winner will be announced on March 13.

Results of a nationwide survey revealed that 40 percent of all teenagers admitted having been present in cars where the driver's texting endangered their lives. According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,328 people lost their lives and 421,000 suffered injuries in 2012 accidents that resulted from distracted driving. It was also reported by a transportation institute in one state that more than 10 percent of crash survivors between ages 18 and 20 admitted to being texting when they were involved in accidents.

It is not uncommon for young drivers to have one or more passengers, and car accidents caused by texting drivers typically also cause life-changing injuries or even the death of passengers. Injured passengers, or the surviving family members of those who lost their lives, may pursue legal claims for monetary damages in a civil court. If the driver deemed negligent does not survive the accident, his or her estate may be sued for personal injury or wrongful death. In cases where the vehicle belongs to the driver's parents or another party, the vehicle owner may also be named as an additional defendant.

Source: pottsmerc.com, "Pennsylvania newspapers and AT&T highlight dangers of texting while driving", Eric Devlin, Feb. 8, 2015

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