Teens doing more than texting while driving
Texting while switching lanes. Talking on a cell phone while negotiating bumper-to-bumper traffic. Eating with one hand while steering with the other.
Distracted driving is a well-known problem among the motoring public, but a new study suggests that it’s at an all-time high, and teenagers are some of the worst offenders. While teens understand the dangers of texting and driving, they aren’t as aware of the dangers of eating, drinking and talking on the phone while driving.
In fact, 27 percent of teens in a recent study reportedly changed clothes or shoes while driving, and some worked on homework.
“Based on recent studies, anything that takes your attention away, any glance away from the road for two seconds or longer, can increase the risk of an accident from four to 24 times,” says David Hurwitz, assistant professor of transportation engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University and corresponding author of the study.
As a result, researchers concluded that more effective education to increase awareness of the risks is needed across the nation. They believe that driving simulators or computer-based training can help show the impact of distractions. Writing, discussion and problem-solving could also assist in understanding the problem.
“Distracted driving is a serious issue,” says Dr. Dipul Patadia, emergency medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “All too often life-threatening accidents occur because drivers are multitasking rather than concentrating on the road and what they’re doing. They are not only putting themselves at risk, but everyone around them.”
It’s important for teens to understand that it’s not just what their fingers are doing, it’s that their mind is on the text and not concentrating on the road, Dr. Patadia says. All drivers need to be aware of the consequences of distracted driving and help prevent these avoidable crashes.
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