Distracted Driving & More
Distracted driving involves any activity, such as cell phone use, that has the potential to distract someone from the task of driving. Distracted driving, alcohol, speeding, and not wearing seat belts can lead to death and injury in crashes. Teens, who are still learning the complex skills of driving, are particularly susceptible to distractions while behind the wheel. Don’t let you or your teen become another statistic. Here are the facts:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Mile for mile, teens are involved in 3 times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. And 1 in 3 teens who text say they have done so while driving.
- In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. That’s a 10.2 percent increase from the estimated 3,154 killed in 2013.
- A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study revealed that physically dialing a phone while driving increases the risk of a crash as much as 6 times. Texting is riskier still, increasing collision risk by 23 times.
To combat this growing epidemic, we suggest the following:
- Set a good example: Kids observe and learn from their parents. Put your phone down while driving and only use it when you are safely pulled over. According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of teens, ages 12 to 17, say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves and others in danger.
- Talk to your teen: Discuss the risks and responsibilities of driving and the danger of dividing their attention between a phone and the road. Show them the statistics related to distracted driving and urge them to share what they learn with their friends.
- Establish ground rules: Set up family rules about not using the phone while behind the wheel. Enforce the limits set by the graduated licensing program.
- Sign a pledge: Have your teen take action by agreeing to a family contract about wearing safety belts, not speeding, not driving after drinking, and not using a cell phone behind the wheel. Agree on penalties for violating the pledge, including paying for tickets or loss of driving privileges.
Other dangerous distractions: In addition to cell phone use, distracted driving can include eating, grooming, drinking, listening to or adjusting the radio, using the GPS, talking to passengers, or watching a video, just to name a few activities. Inexperienced drivers are particularly susceptible to these kinds of distractions. Wearing both earbuds while driving is also dangerous, as well as illegal. Earbuds can distract a driver and diminish the ability to hear emergency vehicles and other audio safety signals. One earbud is allowed, but not both.