Teenagers find themselves at the beginning of a dangerous learning curve when they start driving – and the dangers can be greatly aggravated by the distractions and temptations common to this age group. This five-part blog series will take a look at the threats facing your teen drivers and how you can help your kids stay safe. Our first culprit? Cell phones, which play a role in up to 12 percent of all car crashes.
An estimated 88 percent of teens have access to a cell phone – and they use that access as frequently as humanly possible, even while driving. This kind of distracted driving can seriously impair reaction time, even when the driver uses hands-free mode instead of actually holding the device. Since the human brain can only focus on one task at a time, driving-related brain activity declines by 37 percent during cell phone use. It’s no surprise that reaction time on the road is impaired by 35 percent when the driver is texting. Compare that to the 12-percent decline in drunk drivers, and you understand how devastating the combination of cell phone and driver inexperience can be.
How do you rescue your teen driver from the risks of this daily habit? For starters, you can install software on your teen’s phone that actually helps prevent distraction. This software places the phone in safe mode whenever it’s traveling above 10 miles per hour, which at least prevents texting/emailing/browsing. (Phones running iOS can also block calls via their “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode.) But an even better solution is to teach smart cell phone practices and habits, including turning the phone off completely or putting it out of sight when driving.
Check back with us for the next part of this series as we examine the larger issue of distracted driving among teens.