Distracted Driving: Does Your Teen Know the Dangers?
Before cell phones, distracted driving was usually limited to having a particularly chatty passenger or driving by something truly attention grabbing. But in this current age of technology, our rates of distracted driving accidents have skyrocketed, especially with teen drivers. Distracted driving poses a serious risk for teen drivers and passengers as it is a leading cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities among teenagers. Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. That is why you should always make sure your teen understands the risks of distracted driving before you let them get behind the wheel of a car.
Distracted Teen Driving Statistics
Every parent stresses about their teen driving alone for the first time, and for good reason. Out of the 2,841 people killed by distracted drivers in the U.S. in 2018, 229 were teens between the ages of 15 and 19, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Teen drivers and passengers make up roughly 7% of all distracted driving fatalities, that is an incredibly alarming number considering that teenagers make up a just over 5% of overall drivers, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii). This means that teen drivers take up a larger percentage of fatal distracted driving collisions, than they do of actual drivers in the Unites States.
What Makes Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
Driving while distracted is incredibly dangerous, as it means the driver’s attention is not focused on operating a 3,000 lb. moving motor vehicle. Driver distraction may involve talking or texting on a cell phone, sending or reading emails, checking or posting on social media, talking to passengers in the car, eating or drinking, changing the music, operating the navigation system, grooming, or applying makeup.
Texting, or sending or reading messages on an electronic device, is one of the most alarming forms of driver distraction because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention. According to NHTSA, it takes your eyes off the road for five seconds to send or read a text. If you are traveling at 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
This means that sudden turns, oncoming traffic, or objects/animals appearing in the road would be nearly impossible to accommodate for. An accident at high speeds, where one driver is unable to brake due to being distracted, is likely to result in catastrophic injuries, and could even be fatal. This means that your teen could not only harm themselves, but they may harm others as well.
How You Can Educate Your Teen On the Dangers of Distracted Driving
Many teenagers have been told time and time again that distracted driving is dangerous, but they continue to engage in this behavior. Parents with teen drivers must come up with solutions to this potentially life-threatening problem. In addition to talking personally with your teenager about distracted driving, the following may also be helpful.
Safe Driving Apps
Smartphone apps are available to help prevent or reduce distracted driving, and many teens have been found to be responsive to them. Examples include:
DriveMode: When vehicle speed gets up to 15 mph, this app silences phone calls, text messages, and alerts. It can also send out auto-replies.
LifeSaver: The LifeSaver app blocks all cell phone use while driving.
Mojo: This free app tracks your trips and scores your performance based on talking, typing, and swiping activity.
Online distracted driving courses are available through the National Safety Council (NSC). These courses are delivered in 45-minute and 90-minute formats. Of the two formats, the 90-minute course will provide your teen with the most comprehensive, data-driven content on distracted driving. The curriculum of this course is tailored to the behaviors, attitudes, risk level, and profile of the participant and delivered at a pace set through a self-assessment.
If you or someone you love was injured or died in a distracted driving accident, contact our Dallas and Fort Worth personal injury attorneys at The Lenahan Law Firm. We understand the pain that a car accident can cause, whether it be physically, financially, or emotionally. Call us at (214) 295-1008 to schedule a free consultation with no time limit.