Part 2: Distracted Driving
In the first part of this blog series, we looked at the dangers of cell phone use among teen drivers. As troubling as this habit surely is, it’s only one aspect of the larger issue of distracted driving. Let’s examine some other aspects of these hazards, including the risks that multiply when teens add extra passengers to their vehicles.
Even if the driver isn’t phoning, emailing, or texting, the cabin of a car offers plenty of potential distractions – distractions which can cause crashes and fatal injuries. Even the music being pumped through headphones or speakers can direct a driver’s focus away. If the music is loud enough, important aural signals such as car horns or sirens may be drowned out. (In fact, dancing/singing along to music causes 8 percent of all car crashes!)
“The more the merrier” doesn’t apply to teen driving. Teenagers love to pack cars with as many friends as possible. This is a dangerous habit. Drivers interacting with passengers account for 15 percent of all car crashes. Among teens involved in crashes, 47 percent of females and 71 percent of males were distracted by a passenger before their accident. Even one passenger raises the accident risk by 44 percent, with a doubled risk for two passengers and a quadrupled risk when a third passenger is in the car.
Parents can play a role in reducing their teenagers’ distracted driving risks. Riding in the car with a newly-licensed teen and monitoring the teen’s driving behavior is a great start. You can also have your teen agree to limit the number of passengers as much as possible, keep the earphones out of the ears, and limit music volume so outside sounds can be heard.