Distracted Teenage Drivers

Do you live or work with a teenager who is a licensed driver? Ever wondered how focused, or not focused, they are when they are driving?

Well here is some disturbing news. In a recent survey of over 2000 teenager drivers between the ages of 16- 19 nearly 9 out of 10 admitted to driving while distracted.

The survey conducted jointly by Seventeen Magazine and the American Automobile Association found 86% of teenagers admitted to texting, talking on a phone, or doing other distracting things while in control of a moving vehicle. This is despite 84% of them claiming to know it’s dangerous.

The main distracting behaviours teenage drivers admitted to were:

  • 73% said they’ve adjusted their radios while driving.
  • 61% said they’ve eaten food.
  • 60% admitted to chatting on a cell phone.
  • 41% said they think their action will only take a split second.
  • 32% don’t think anything bad will happen as a result.

Though most know it’s wrong, many of them still came up with ways to justify their behaviour. Amazingly 34% claimed they’re used to multitasking (playing up the digital native stereotype), and 32% don’t think anything bad will happen as a result (exemplifying the adolescent ego-centric belief system). Never mind that no matter how multi-tasking you are you can’t respond if your eyes aren’t on the road, and road accidents are the biggest killer of young people!

However their attitudes were somewhat less confident when they were a passenger in a vehicle driven by a teen.

  • 38% said they’ve been afraid they would get hurt in a car because the driver was distracted by doing something else.
  • 36% said they believe they’ve been involved in a near-accident because of their own or someone else’s distracted driving.

What Can Adults Do?

There isn’t much parents or adults can actually do when a teenager is out in the car. But there are some steps to take prior to giving a teenager the key to the car.

  • Set an example. As mentioned in an earlier post, a recent survey found that adults behaviour is not much better than teens when it comes to using mobile phones and driving, with almost 50% of parents admitting to texting while driving.
  • Set rules. Parents could set rules like no passengers in the car for the first six to 12 months of driving, as the risk of teen-related car accidents goes up dramatically when there are passengers in the car.
  • Control the keys. Parents should also consider controlling the keys to their teen’s car. Teens who consider themselves the primary driver of a car are twice as likely to crash than a teen who is driving a family car.

Image by inhisgrace

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