If there is a “symbol” for distracted driving, it’s the texting-while-driving teenager barreling down the road. While crashes remain the single largest cause of death for teens, things are improving in some areas.
A recent American Automobile Association poll revealed that 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, while 35% of those polled admitted to still committing the act. That’s an improvement in terms of cutting down on that behavior.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. Distracted driving is the cause of a quarter of all crashes, but that number jumps to 58% when teenagers are involved. It takes only three seconds for a driver’s attention to be diverted for a crash to occur – an issue that is exacerbated in teens who don’t have years of driving experience.
One reason the number is so high is that, according to 2017 statistics compiled by Pew Research, 92% of young adults (18-29) own a smartphone. Perhaps more importantly, those kids are preoccupied with the phone is the issue.
(Distracted driving problem? Nope. It’s an epidemic. Click Here for the story.)
A Common Sense Media survey of 620 kids (and 620 parents) found half of teens feel that their reliance on their phone has become an addiction.
That addition leads to in appropriate behaviors, including:
- Driving distracted is compared to drunk driving since it follows the same psychological pattern: when drivers get away with driving distracted, they then continue to practice this bad habit until a crash occurs or until they are caught and suffer consequences.
- Distracted driving is seen as a tricky problem as it’s a temporary one that is hard to proactively predict and catch.
- While the number of drinking and driving fatalities has decreased in teens, the number of traffic fatalities in the age group has not, much attributed to distracted driving.
- A poll shows that 77% of adults and 55% of teenage drivers believe that they can easily manage texting while simultaneously navigating the road.
- An NHTSA survey showed that only 1 in 5 teens believes that texting impacts their personal driving performance.
- Teens that text while driving are proven to veer out of the lane during 10% of their total drive time.
- A University of Utah study found that the reaction time of a teen using a cell phone is equal to that of a 70-year-old woman who is not using a hand-held device.
Adding to this dilemma is that celebrities that most influence teens, social media stars, are some of the biggest violators of laws related to distracted driving. They often fill their channels with selfies or other pics taken behind the while.
(Click Here for more about safety groups joining forces to push reforms.)
Often, these internet stars are teens themselves and don’t practice common sense in their efforts to post new, eye-catching content. What’s worse — they may actively be telling your kids that there is nothing wrong or unsafe about distracted driving, according to TeenSafe.com.
In fact, YouTube vlogger MsJessicaFaceein one of her vlogstalks at length about how vlogging while driving is not illegal and even admits to texting while driving (treating the whole thing like a joke). Not only is she exhibiting dangerous behavior, but she’s actively encouraging others to do it as well.
Model and Instagram star Nina Palangetic regularly posts Instagram videos while driving. She came under fire for posting one where she not only admitted to her dangerous behavior but threatened to punch police officers in the face if they dared to pull her over for her reckless driving.
(To see more about how traffic fatalities fell slightly in the first half of 2017, Click Here.)
With that said, there are influencers who take distracted driving seriously. Beauty blogger Ashley Waxman Bakshi produced a video that left many fans fearing she had been involved in a fatal crash after blogging while driving. The video turned out to be an anti-distracted driving PSA and a valuable lesson many of her fellow vloggers could take to heart.