Earlier this week, a teenager was sentenced to 2 ½ years behind bars — with a year to serve, and the remainder suspended — for a fatal car accident that happened while he was texting. His sentence reflects a growing trend in many states to criminalize cell phone use while driving.

In Ohio, that’s already the case because Gov. John R. Kasich signed into law various prohibitions against texting and driving. Depending on the driver’s age, the restrictions on texting and the use of other portable electronic devices may be enforced as either a primary or secondary offense. For adults, the secondary enforcement means that police must have another reason to initially stop and cite violators. For drivers under the age of 18, however, the law will be a primary offense.

According to a recent estimate by The National Safety Council, more than 20% of all traffic crashes in 2011 involved distracted drivers using cell phones. That amounts to more than 1 million accidents. Of that number, most were talking, while about 100,000 drivers were texting. In a finding by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a driver using a hand-held cell phone may be up to 4 times more likely to cause a crash.

If you were in an accident caused by another driver’s failure to drive safely, you deserve to be fairly compensated for any injuries and property damage you might have sustained. You can use Udall Shumway if you’re in Mesa, AZ and if you’re not, make sure you do your research into your local lawyers — only use a lawyer who is fully qualified and gets results. Even if you believe the other driver was negligent — because he or she was texting, for example — the recovery you seek may still be met with resistance. An attorney can help you prepare a claim or lawsuit so that you prevail.

Source: USA Today, “Mass. teen guilty in fatal texting-while-driving crash,” June 7, 2012