Being distracted while driving can lead to serious consequences. And yet, a report by AAA shows that six out of 10 crashes which were labeled as moderate to severe and involved teen drivers were caused by distractions. Even though most people are aware of the dangers of getting distracted, statistics show it continues to happen.
When people think of distracted driving, especially among teens, they immediately think of texting or posting on social media while driving. Cell phone use is one of the top distractions, but it isn’t the top one nor the only one. Other distractions include:
What makes these distractions even more dangerous for teen drivers is a lack of experience. They all too often feel that risks for accidents include others but not them. They’ve also had fewer opportunities behind the wheel to learn about managing conditions that are unsafe.
According to research, teens failed to make any decisions to prevent an accident over half the time if they were using a cell phone when an accident occurred. This means they didn’t even put on the brakes or change directions by steering. Those who use the cell phone did not have their eyes on the road for over four out of the six seconds prior to crash. This means they had no clue what was happening until it was too late to react.
In many states, car crashes have become the leading cause of death among teenagers. Even with graduated driving laws, teens are failing to follow safety rules and using their cell phones when they are driving.
While most people will recognize this issue as a serious problem, not everyone is in agreement about what to do. Some say that enacting stricter laws is the answer. In many states, it is now illegal to use a phone without a hands-free system while driving. However, these laws only work when someone gets caught.
Others advocate education as a deterrent. More schools and other programs are trying to make teens aware of the consequences of distracted driving. Parents must also set a good example even before their teens are old enough to drive. They can also set rules of their own, such as limiting the number of passengers or prohibiting nighttime driving. They can also take steps to prohibit cell phone use even when it’s not illegal.
While there is no single answer for how to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents by teens, it is important to continue working towards that goal. Teen drivers must understand the seriousness of not paying attention to the road and other drivers even for just a few seconds and how it can impact the rest of their lives.