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How serious a problem is texting and driving?

It takes only a few seconds for an accident to happen on a Montana highway. Any activity that takes a driver's attention off the road for those few seconds significantly increases the odds of a car accident.

The toll from distracted driving in the United States is horrendous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people die and over a thousand are injured every day in this country in accidents involving a distracted driver.

Texting and driving is a particularly hazardous form of distraction. A driver who texts behind the wheel is distracted in three ways: visually, cognitively and manually. In the few seconds it takes a driver to type, send or read a text message, his or her car may as well be driverless.

Unfortunately, texting and driving is very prevalent in the United States. According to one study, approximately one-third of U.S. drivers admitted to reading or sending text messages behind the wheel during the 30-day period before they responded to the survey.

Texting and driving is likely negligent behavior. When a negligent driver injures or kills another person, they can face criminal and civil liability. The injured victims, or the families of those who were killed, may have the right to seek compensation for their losses through a civil lawsuit. Those who were injured can seek monetary damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. Those who have lost a loved one can bring a wrongful death lawsuit and seek damages for loss of support and loss of care, comfort and companionship.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, "Distracted Driving in the United States and Europe," accessed May 27, 2016

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