Model Distraction-Free Driving To Help Keep Your Teenagers Safe

A recent study found that just reaching for a cell phone, even without looking at it, increases the risk of an accident for teenage drivers.

The small study placed video cameras and sensors in the cars of 82 teenagers who had just gotten their driver's licenses to monitor them for one year. The average age of participants was 16.5 years old.

The study found that teenagers who manually manipulated a cell phone or reached for something like a snack or drink while driving increased their risk of a crash by nearly three times. In 51 percent of crashes studied, the teenager was engaged in another activity besides driving.

Teenagers' limited driving experience; their tendency to overestimate their ability to multitask; and frequent use of technology may contribute to their increased risk of distracted driving, according to the lead author of the study. Lisa Rapaport "Teen drivers reaching for objects more likely to crash" reuters.com (Mar. 15, 2019).

Commentary

Discuss the dangers of distracted driving with teens before they take the wheel. Because new drivers are more likely to have an accident as a result of distracted driving, teaching teens about the risks could save his or her life.

Explain the studies proving that distracted driving causes accidents. Explain that people often overestimate their ability to multitask while driving. Tell teens that even if they think they can safely check their phone or reach for other objects while driving, the evidence proves otherwise.

The most effective way to keep teens from driving distracted is to model good driving practices yourself. Stow your phone out of sight every time you drive and avoid pulling it out when you hear a phone call or text come in. You can always check your messages later. Keeping yourself, your family, and other drivers safe is far more important than responding quickly to a text.

If you use your phone to listen to music, start your playlist before you pull out and then put your phone away. Also, stow away anything that could roll around in the car while you drive and cause you to reach to grab it. Avoid snacking while you drive. Remember, distracted driving does not just include texting. Anything - changing the radio, eating fast food, turning around to talk to your children - that takes your attention off of the road is dangerous and must be avoided.

Distracted driving kills people of all ages every year, and no one is safe from its dangers. Model good habits to help reduce the risk of a car accident.

Here are some links to more information on distracted driving:

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