We have previously written about the increasingly prevalent problem of distracted driving. Although driving distracted is a chosen behavior and not a “disease” in the traditional sense, the scourge of distracted driving car accidents has prompted responses from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A recent report from the CDC noted that distracted driving kills nine people and causes injuries to 1,060 more each day on U.S. roads.
As with most diseases, the best cure for distracted driving is prevention. And prevention efforts should be focused on our most vulnerable and susceptible drivers: Newly licensed teenagers. In today’s post, we’ll talk about what actions California drivers can take to address a problem that puts all of us at serious risk of an auto accident.
Studies show that teen drivers are likely to start engaging in “high-risk secondary tasks” as they get comfortable with the routine aspects of driving. If you are the parent or grandparent of a teen driver, you may have much more influence than you realize. You can impart wisdom in two ways: By example and by communicating clear expectations and rules.
First, please make the choice to drive distraction-free each and every time you get behind the wheel. This sets an example for the teenager in your life that texting and other distracting activities are not safe or acceptable even among experienced drivers.
You may also want to set specific rules and expectations for your teen driver about avoiding distraction behind the wheel. When your teen is driving and hears that they have a new text message, they’ll be less likely to read it immediately if they have your voice in their mind saying: “The family rule is that we drive first and talk or text later.”
California has laws against cellphone-related distractions behind the wheel, but we all know that enforcement is not effective enough to be a significant deterrent. That’s why it is so important for each of us to make a commitment to drive distraction-free and to send that same message to those we love.
Source: USA Today, “Distracted driving: What you can do,” Heather Frank, Feb. 14, 2014