Teen drivers face many distractions as the summer arrives. They are out of school and looking for fun, which means hanging out at the beach, riding the roads and staying out later than normal. Their focus on safety may be lower than normal.
The summer months are the most dangerous for teen drivers with more fatalities during June, July and August, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As car accident lawyers in Hawaii, we see the devastation a teen driving accident can cause a family.
Teens deal with more technological distractions than teens did two to three decades ago. Social media has become so popular many teens can’t stop themselves from texting, sending email and chatting with friends, even while driving.
If they have a friend in the vehicle, that person is likely to be on the cell phone, too, relaying information, taking selfies or generally distracting the driver with information that takes the young person’s away from the main task of driving. Today, many states including Hawaii have graduated driver’s license laws that prevent young, inexperienced drivers from carrying more than one teenager in the car.
Distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,154 people on America’s roads in 2013, according to distraction.gov, and teens are considered the most likely drivers to be distracted, especially because of their attachment to cell phones.
A survey commissioned by Bridgestone Americas in 2013 found 95 percent of teen drivers read text messages and emails while driving alone, and more than 90 say they post to social media sites while going solo. The numbers are much lower when someone else is in the car.
While government agencies are taking steps to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding teen distracted driving, it is up to families to be the final stop-gap.
Communicate with Kids
Sometimes it’s difficult to make teenagers to listen, but parents need to take the initiative to talk with their young drivers to reiterate the dangers of teen driving distracted and serious consequences.
All too often, a local example can be found of a teen driver who was killed or seriously injured in a car accident while texting or talking on the phone. Consider making that the focal point of the conversation.
For parents to give credible advice to teen drivers, they must be good role models. When you get in the car with your children, don’t talk or text. Otherwise, they’ll be likely to use the old excuse, “My parents do it, so why can’t I?”
Battle technology with technology
If you’re getting few results from face-to-face communication, numerous apps are on the market enabling parents to monitor their teen’s driving habits.
- OneProtect enables parents to remotely cut off a cell phone and allows the driver to use only hands-free use of a cell phone.
- AT&T DriveMode prevents incoming and outgoing phone calls, in addition to browsing on the Internet. It must be turned on by the driver.
- DriveSafely provides a voice capable of reading texts and emails so the driver can hear them and gives a response letting the person who sent them know the person is driving.
- SafeCell catches calls and text messages before they reach the receiver and notifies the sender the person is busy driving.
Pledge to avoid distractions
It might sound a little elementary, but parents and teens who take pledges to avoid technological distractions are likely to think twice before they check email or texts while on the road. Consider these:
- gov: I pledge to, 1) protect lives by never texting or talking on the phone while driving, 2) be a good passenger and speak out if the driver in my car is distracted and 3) encourage my friends and family to drive phone-free.
- It Can Wait: No text is worth the risk. It can wait. No text message, email, website or video is worth the risk of endangering my life or the lives of others on the road. I pledge to never text and drive and will take action to educate others about the dangers of texting while driving.
Of course, cell phones aren’t the only type of driver distraction. Eating and drinking, grooming, reading maps, using a navigation system, watching videos and even adjusting a radio or CD player can cause a motorist to divert their attention. It only takes a split second for a distraction to cause a serious car crash.
Distraction.gov points out driving requires the motorist’s attention on the task, eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Taking any of those away from the primary task can be dangerous. As summer arrives, take the time to explain to your teenager the enormous responsibility that comes with driving and the importance of being fully alert at all times. That text or email isn’t worth their life.