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New PSA Drives Home Issue of Dangerous Distracted Driving

With April designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it's a great time for the US Department of Transportation to release its new public service announcement and for you to consult a car accident attorney. And this one truly drives a point in a terrifyingly and heartbreakingly visual way.

The 30-second television PSA features three teens driving down a quiet suburban street. They're doing just what teens do – chatting, laughing and listening to music – when the driver, a young girl, gets a text message on her phone. And that's when the unthinkable happens. While the driver's eyes are on her phone, her car speed past a stop sign and is hit by a semi-truck. We see the car flip several times before coming to a rest beneath an overpass.

“Nobody likes to be stopped by the police,” says a uniformed actor who steps into the frame and picks up the girl's phone. “But if I had seen her texting while driving and given her a ticket, it just might have saved her life.”

Statistics show that more than 3,320 Americans were killed in automobile crashes in which distracted driving was a contributing factor in 2012. Texting is widely considered among the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention – all of which should be focused on the road. Texting pulls a driver's eyes off the road for an average of five seconds at a time, experts say. At a rate of 55 miles per hour, a car can easily cover the length of an NFL football field in those potentially fatal five seconds.

Unfortunately, it seems American drivers have yet to heed the message. Though the number of traffic fatalities nationwide fell 1.5 percent between 2010 and 2011, the number of deaths caused by distracted driving jumped 1.92 percent. A full 12 percent of fatal automobile crashes across America involve a driver's use of a cell phone, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it's not just teens who are guilty. Studies show 43 percent of teens and 49 percent of adults admit to texting while driving.