Distracted teens make driving dangerous for all
You are taught to drive as a teen and one of the most important takeaways from a driver’s education course is to always to have all your attention on the road and your surroundings.
A recent supplement from the Journal of Adolescent Health is taking another look at distracted driving and its causes. Frightening statistics show that car crashes are the primary cause of teen deaths, and 16 percent of all distraction-related fatal car crashes in 2008 involved a driver under the age of 20. With this in mind, the journal supplement takes a larger scale view of the issue to provide teens, parents, lawmakers, researchers and practitioners a more advanced understanding of how distracted driving is potentially life-threatening and steps that can be taken to reduce these related crashes.
Over the past three decades the supplement notes the progression in reducing the risk of teen car crashes; however, new technologies and non-attentive behavior make it an uphill battle.
Dr. C. Raymond Bingham from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, said in a statement, “For many of the same reasons that alcohol-impaired driving represents a distinct risk for adolescents, distracted driving has an elevated impact on teens. The unique challenge posed by the proliferation of new technological distractions may accelerate this risk behavior and may lend itself to innovative prevention efforts.”
Former United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood noted in a statement that even though there is no simple or quick fix, the research compiled in the supplement may lay a significant foundation for additional debate and policies to address the problem of distracted driving.
The supplement takes a deeper dive into the brain development of teens, along with how distracting personalities connect to driving. It also takes into account the patterns of distraction and brain function of newly licensed teens, the potential role of parents modeling distracted behavior while driving, the influence of technology and peer passengers and society norms, policy, legislation and intervention.
One of the ideas highlighted is that there are many complex factors which make teens more vulnerable to being a distracted driver than other age groups. The supplement suggests a more extensive new driver training to help teens with the more unique driving problems and to better help them maintain their focus while on the road.
“Cultural attitudes and values and the public’s tolerance for distracted driving need to be targeted by informative and persuasive public health campaigns that make evident the need and create a public demand for individual behavior change,” Dr. Bingham said in a statement.
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