As young drivers head back to school, a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association explores the problem of teen distracted driving, and outlines educational and enforcement policies across the U.S. designed to address it. Not only are motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds in the U.S., teens are over represented in the overall number of crashes across all age groups. In Florida for example, teens make up only 5% of the driving population, but they are involved in about 9% of the fatal crashes (FDHSMV).
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous habits a driver of any age can engage in. Unfortunately, inexperienced teen drivers are at even higher risk when their attention is divided. Texting or talking on cell phones while driving is one of the riskiest forms of distracted driving. Teen drivers, however, are distracted by more than just electronic devices. As outlined in the new report, eating, grooming, adjusting the radio and even daydreaming are drawing their attention away from the road.
Some other facts and figures from the report include:
- Americans DO recognize the dangers of driving distracted. In fact, 96.1% of drivers feel threatened by others who talk on cell phones when behind the wheel.
- New research suggests that peer passengers may pose a greater threat of a teen driver being involved in a serious incident than electronic devices. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by 50%.
So what’s being done to keep teens from driving distracted? Efforts are underway across the country to educate teens properly about defensive driving, and the enforce laws aimed at reducing the number of distracted drivers on the road.
- When it comes to passenger restrictions, 47 states and DC have provisions in their GDL laws, 13 of which are secondary enforcement.
- 44 states and DC have an all-driver text messaging ban. Of those bans, 39 are primary offenses and five are treated as secondary offenses (including Florida).
For more information on what individual states are doing to fight distracted driving, refer to the complete GHSA report, titled “Distracted & Dangerous, Helping States Keep Teens Focused on the Road.”
If you are a new driver, take care on the road ways and drive defensively. Put the tips you learned in your Drug and Alcohol course from GDL Institute to good use. If you haven’t yet taken the course, register today and get on the road to driving independence (and a lifetime of safe driving habits!)
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 2010 Florida Crash Facts
- Distracted & Dangerous, Helping States Keep Teens Focused on the Road – GHSA