With summer in full swing, more than the usual number of teen drivers are on the road. We know that over half of all crashes involving teens are caused by distracted driving. However, the primary cause of that distraction may surprise you.
We generally associate distracted driving with talking and texting on cellphones — and that’s certainly a problem. However, more teen distracted driving crashes are caused by passengers (15%) according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study than anything else. That’s even higher than texting (12%).
Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous. It can be fatal. According to the most recent annual statistics available (from 2016), 3,450 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving.
Perhaps even more troubling is data that shows that drivers in their 20s have an even higher number of crashes caused by distracted driving. That means that if teens don’t learn to avoid distractions behind the wheel in their initial years with their driver’s license, they may be even more likely to suffer the consequences as they get away from their parents’ watchful gaze and go out into the world (or at least to college) on their own.
Parents can be an important influence on their young drivers when it comes to distracted driving. If you’re guilty of it yourself, acknowledge that and make it a family goal not to have any distractions behind the wheel.
That includes not just putting your phone away and keeping the noise level down among the other occupants of the vehicle. It also means refraining from eating, grooming and reading (even if it’s a quick glance at a text or email).
Provide your kids with solutions, such as pulling over and parking if they need to read or respond to a text. If they need to program their GPS, they should do it before they get started on their trip. Don’t call them if you think they might be driving or expect them to respond to you.
By not engaging in distracted driving, young drivers can be better able to react to unexpected events, like a reckless or negligent driver. However, if your teen or anyone in your family suffers injuries due to an at-fault driver, it’s essential to know what your options are for seeking the compensation you need and deserve to deal with medical bills and other expenses and damages.