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Recently, a national survey of teenage drivers revealed what teens do when driving, suggesting that distractions often cause accidents and, regrettably, tragic consequences for their families. While about 90% of teens say they don’t drink and drive, 9 out of 10 admit they’ve seen passengers distracting the driver or drivers using cell phone. Many admit they don’t always wear their safety belts.
Due to peer pressure and desire for social acceptance, teens don’t want to be seen as uncool by telling friends to buckle up or sit back and quit distracting the teen driver. In addition, teens see adults, including their parents, drive while engaged in cell phone calls, putting on makeup or eating, routinely.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 7,500 teenagers were involved in fatal automobile accidents in 2005. Speeding is more common than substance abuse as a contributing cause of these accidents, and about 70% of these motor vehicle accidents involve teens who are either fatigued or in highly emotional states for some reason. In other words, they’re distracted from driving.
Teenage drivers are involved in 6,000 to 8,000 auto accidents annually, about 4 times the rate for older drivers. Driver distraction is a contributing cause in many such accidents.
Teen drivers need to be educated to this fact and the fact that safe driving doesn’t stop with designating a driver who won’t drink that evening. They must also pay attention and avoid distractions in order to avoid tragedy. One website dedicated to educating teenage drivers to the dangers of driving while distracted is Journey Safe, which admonishes teen drivers to buckle up, turn off their phones, turn down the music, and drive safely.