I was asked to write a blog about Teen Driving and Distracted Driving, so the question is who is Steve O’Connor? I am married with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. My brother was killed in an auto accident in 1993 and have seen first-hand what the loss of a child does to a parent. I have been a safety professional for 35 years and have trained many clients in defensive driving techniques.
Take precautions with your new teen drivers
The first few years teenagers spend as drivers are very risky. In fact, teen drivers have the highest death rates of any age group, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
While getting a driver’s license is an exciting rite-of-passage for teens, it can be enough to make a parent frantic. Here are some steps parents can take help their teens be safe:
- Pick a safe car. You and your teenager should choose a car that is easy to drive and will offer protection in the event of a crash.
- Understand your state's teenage driving laws. Many states have specific restrictions on teenage driving. You should understand your state's restrictions and the number of those restrictions before your teenage begins driving: Governors Highway Safety Association and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- Have your teen take a certified driver's education course. A teenager who has learned to drive through a recognized driver's education course may be viewed more favorably by insurers.
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of combining driving with alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep and distractions. Teach your children about the dangers of drinking and driving, and other distractions. Accidents occur each year because a teen driver was driving while drinking, using a cellphone, text messaging, streaming music, or talking to friends in the backseat. Also, teens should be careful not to create distractions and to exhibit safe behavior when they are passengers in their friends' cars.
- Be a good role model. New drivers learn by example, so if you drive recklessly, your teenage driver may imitate you. Always wear your seat belt and never drink and drive.
The list above is very important; however, we need to model being a good driver while driving and avoid being distracted while operation a car. The reason this so important is: traffic fatalities were on the rise in 2015 and 2016 per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is amazing considering all the safety features offered on new cars. So, if our cars are safer than they have ever been, the issue must be with the person behind the wheel.
Driving and multitasking don’t mix
Distracted Driving is at epidemic proportion – Just look around you as you drive - people are paying more attention to their phone that the road. Sending a text requires 3 different types of distraction Visual – taking our eyes off the road, Manual – actually typing the text and Cognitive – mind isn’t focused on driving. To put this in basic terms, the average text take 5 to 10 seconds to send or read. That means you have traveled 300 to 600 feet at 55 mph, without a driver behind the wheel. When you try to do two things at once, your brain is forced to shift focus. See how the likelihood of a car accident increases while performing these common activities in the crash risk indicator graphic at the end of the blog.
5 tips to avoid common driving distractions
Keeping your focus on the road can be easier said than done. Here are some things you can do to avoid this common problem.
- Turn off your cell phone — even if you're expecting an important business call.
- If you need to be reachable at all times, get a hands-free device to use only in case of emergency. Why only in emergencies? Because studies have shown that hands-free devices prove just as distracting as normal cell phone use while driving.
- When driving with children or pets, make sure the kids are strapped into their seats and pets are in carriers. If they need your attention during the drive, pull over before handling the situation.
- Eat before or after you drive. Just don't eat while driving.
- Program your GPS before you leave the driveway.
Remember the Goal is to: Keep your eyes on the Road and your Mind Focused on Driving!
Refer to the gallery for more information on the risks of distracted driving.