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Driving distractions major cause of road tragedies
November 5, 2017, 2:06 pm

One of the main reasons behind traffic fatalities, especially among young teen drivers, is being distracted while driving. Many young drivers involved in traffic accidents have been found to be reading or texting on their mobile devices while behind the wheel, or turning their heads to talk with their co-passengers, usually other teenagers.

Research into teen traffic accidents reveal that while only six percent of teens aged 16 to 18 say it is acceptable to text or email while driving, nearly six times that percentage have done so while driving.

In 2016, distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in the US, with teen drivers accounting for the highest percentage of all drivers reported to have been distracted at the time of the fatal crash. Another 400,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving incidents.

Despite this e-distraction, a study by the American Automobile Association found that the top distraction for teens is not their cellphone, but the presence of other teen passengers. While 12 percent of teen traffic accidents stemmed from texting or talking on a smartphone, 15 percent of accidents occurred from being distracted by co-passengers

Nevertheless, texting is considered especially dangerous because it involves using the eyes, hands and brain at the same time. Drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for about five seconds. At a driving speed of 80km per hour this five seconds is equivalent to driving over 100 meters with eyes closed.

There are several smartphone apps that notify parents of unsafe driving practices, but parents should not rely solely on apps and other technological solutions to protect their children. The best countermeasure is an involved parent who supervises practice driving, signs a parent-teen agreement detailing driving rules to be followed and parents who set good exaamples.

Talk to your teen about the responsibility of safe driving, impressing upon him or her that the odds are against teen drivers surviving a crash when driving while distracted. Put your own phone down while driving, especially when your teen is in the car and watching you. Turn off the radio when teen drivers are first learning how to drive. Loud music can be very distracting while learning the basics. Set specific consequences if a teen driver does not follow the set rules.


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