The federal Department of Transportation reported that distracted driving related accidents killed 3,328 United States citizens in 2012 alone. In the same year, distracted driving accidents caused 21% of all the fatal auto accidents involving teens ages 15 to 19 years old.
Distracted driving occurs when the operator of an automobile decides to use a cellphone to talk or text on, eat or drink, turn to look at another passenger while talking, using a navigation system, reading, watching video, adjusting a radio or other form of music player, grooming, while behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving. The increasingly large number of fatalities and serious injuries caused by distracted driving accidents over the past five years has made it obvious that distracted driving is without a doubt one of the more serious safety issues and risks for every American that chooses to get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
While distracted driving is a serious health risk for every driver, less experienced drivers are the most vulnerable to being seriously injured and even killed in a distracted driving related crash. A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute proves that in fact younger drivers are more overconfident behind the wheel once they receive their license making them more reckless, and in turn more at risk.
USA Today recently interviewed Charlie Klauer, the group leader for teen risk and injury prevention at the institute’s Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety. In this interview Charlie Klauer stated that “novice drivers are more likely to engage in high-risk secondary tasks more frequently over time as they become more comfortable with driving. This high rate of secondary task engagement amongst teenage drivers is very alarming because studies show that this behavior is one of the leading causes and contributing factors of auto accidents.
Because of all this, talking with and teaching your teen the rules of the road and safe driving behavior is more important than ever. Below are a few simple things a parent can do to help prevent teen distracted driving and in turn making the roads a safer place for everyone on them.
- Notify your teen and then install a monitoring system in the car that your teen will be driving. These types of monitoring devices are offered at a discount by some insurance companies.
- Study and learn the driving laws in your jurisdiction and then make sure to teach these laws to everyone in your family so that they fully understand the regulations and penalties for distracted driving.
- Make sure to always set a good example for your teen or teens by putting away any type of device that can cause distracted driving while driving.
- Take the pledge to always drive phone-free and also encourage family and friends to do the same.