Distracted Driving and Teens: Educating Your Child
Distracted driving is far too common among teen drivers as smartphones have become a natural part of life for them. Sadly, this reckless behavior poses a serious risk to others who share the streets, roads, and highways around Los Angeles County. Even with widely disseminated information on the dangers of distracted driving in news stories, at school, and in driver training programs, it is still common for many teenagers to talk, text, or post on social media while behind the wheel. When you combine this dangerous driving behavior with inexperience and limited driving skills, it can be a recipe for disaster.
What Makes Cell Phone Use So Dangerous?
While controlling a 3,000 lb. moving vehicle, the driver’s attention must be focused on the road ahead. Anything that distracts from the task at hand poses a danger—texting while driving is the most alarming form of distraction, as it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention. It takes the driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds to send or read a text, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with eyes closed. This can lead to devastating distracted driving accidents that leave drivers, passengers, and pedestrians badly injured.
The Prevalence of Distracted Driving Among Teenagers
One of the major issues with distracted driving among teens is that they do not think it is a problem. Roughly 20% of drivers ages 18-20 surveyed believe that texting while driving does not affect their ability to pay attention, according to a report by the NHTSA. In addition, the Pew Research Center found that 34% of teens ages 16-17 admit to texting while driving and 52% of teens who own cell phones have also admitted to talking on the phone while driving. Despite their belief that they are in control, research has shown that the highest level of cell phone involvement in crashes or near-crashes occurs among young drivers, according to the AAA Foundation.
Reducing Teen Distracted Driving Accidents
Many parents are probably wondering how to curb the issue of distracted driving in their households. One method of keeping your child is safe is utilizing new technology to influence their driving habits. Some new models can be installed with a device like ORIGOSafeDriver™, which is designed to not let the driver start the car’s engine unless the cell phone is locked in a dock, after which only Bluetooth connectivity is allowed. Ford Motor Co has also developed MyKey technology, a system that causes devices to automatically silence incoming calls and text messages and will only enable GPS navigation or emergency calls to 911.
However, nothing works as well as teaching teenagers to commit to safe driving practices. Hands-free devices have been shown to be ineffective in reducing distracted driving if it does not include a change in habits. Teenagers must be taught early on that using a cell phone while driving can lead to serious consequences. This starts with leading by example.
Children can learn at a young age that texting and using social media while driving is okay if they see their parents do it. Setting your phone on silent or putting it away when you drive can teach teenagers about safe driving practices. In addition, if a child sees you use your phone and then you warn them against it, they may argue that you are being hypocritical and ignore your warnings. If you text while driving yourself, your teenager is likely to do the same.
Alongside teaching by example, parents should also talk to their teenagers about the responsibilities of driving and the dangers of driver distraction. Letting them know that you are concerned about how they drive may seem simple, but it can go a long way to convincing them of the dangers. You may also want to cover the possible legal consequences, for example, a suspended or delayed driver’s license, that comes with distracted driving charges.
When the Worst-Case Scenario Occurs
Even when you teach your teen to drive as safely as possible, you cannot stop other drivers from driving recklessly. If your teen is injured in an auto accident caused by another driver, you may be able to pursue a claim for damages on their behalf. To understand your rights during a claim in California, contact the Glendale auto accident attorneys at Aghabegian & Associates, PC. We can investigate whether or not you have a claim and how to hold a negligent driver liable for damages, including if they were distracted driving. Call us at (818) 507-4311 to schedule a free consultation.