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Distractions for Teen Drivers Go Beyond Cellphones

Recently, we discussed what people can do when they have an elderly loved one who can no longer safely drive. Driving can become a problem for people as they age due to slowed response time, medications and physical and emotional conditions. However, young people's unsafe driving habits are more likely to involve being distracted.

While that's hardly news to many Florida parents, a study conducted by The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that teen distracted driving is even worse than they realized. This is significant because young drivers have a higher crash rate than those in any other age group.

In the study (the most comprehensive one ever done), cameras and vehicle event recorders were placed in cars to document what the drivers were doing in the seconds prior to a crash. They showed that 60 percent of the crashes were caused by some kind of distracted driving behavior.

The AAA study found that in 15 percent of the crashes, drivers were interacting with their passengers. In 12 percent, they were using their phones.

Here are the other top distracted driving behaviors they observed:

  • 10 percent of drivers were looking at something inside the car
  • 9 percent were looking at something outside
  • 8 percent were singing or moving to music
  • 6 percent were doing some type of personal grooming
  • 6 percent were reaching for something

It will take a combination of parental involvement and stricter laws to help reduce the number of crashes caused by teen drivers, according to AAA. It recommends that parents be highly involved in helping their teens learn to drive. They also suggest that parents enact a safe-driving agreement with their teens, including rules involving distracted driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has one on its website. AAA also recommends added restrictions for new drivers regarding things like use of handheld phones and the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle.

We're all living in a multi-tasking society where we rarely do one thing at a time. While distracted driving isn't safe for anyone, the chief executive officer of AAA notes that it's more dangerous for young drivers because they "have spent less time behind the wheel and cannot draw upon their previous experience to manage unsafe conditions." This can be a danger not only to them, but to those of us sharing the road with them.

Source: Truck Trend, "Teen Distracted Driving “Even Worse” than AAA Thought," Brett T. Evans, March. 26, 2015

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