Distracted Driving & More

Distracted driving and more

Distracted driving involves any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Distracted driving, impairment, speeding, and not wearing seat belts are all risky choices that can lead to serious injury and death. 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 ages 16-19 are involved in 3 times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. In a 2020 study, 39% of teen drivers admitted to texting while driving at least once in the previous 30 days.
  • According to NHTSA, 3,142 people were killed in 2020 in distraction-related crashes nationwide,
    with teens having the highest rate of distracted driving crashes involving a fatality.
  • 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 away while driving and only use it when you are safely pulled over. According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of teens aged 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 call and the road. Show them the statistics related to distracted driving and urge them to share what they learn with their friends. Encourage them to speak up if they are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver.
  • Establish ground rules: Set up family rules about not using the phone or other electronic devices 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 or MP3 player, 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.

Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe:

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at risk.

  • It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
  • It is illegal to use marijuana under the age of 21.
  • Marijuana can negatively impact your ability to safely control a vehicle.
  • Use of marijuana will slow your reaction time and impair your judgment.
  • Marijuana affects your coordination, your memory, and ability to problem-solve.
  • Combining marijuana and alcohol, even in small doses, greatly increases the risk of getting into a crash. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722956/)

If you plan to drive, be smart and have no alcohol, marijuana, or any other drugs in your system.

If you feel different, you drive different

If you’re buzzed, drunk, or high, you are impaired and should never get behind the wheel. Marijuana, the drug most commonly found in the blood of people who have been in a car crash, can effect people differently. The best rule is this: if you plan to drive, have no drugs or alcohol.


Eyes on the road

Teens tend to look away from the road and become distracted for longer periods than older drivers. It’s important to train them to keep their eyes on the road ahead. While parked, test your teen on how long they look away when doing various tasks inside the vehicle, adjusting the temperature or tuning the radio. Coach them repeatedly on the importance of focusing on the road ahead.