A new study funded by the AAA Foundation suggests that teenagers should not drive cars until cellphone, cosmetics, and any other product makers cease their operations or stop selling to minors or parents with teens.

Seriously, the study, which put a camera in the car of 50 North Carolina families with novice teen drivers, gave researchers firsthand knowledge of the common distractors for teenagers who drive.

The first study of its kind, Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers looked at the incidence and ramifications of distracted driving during high-risk automotive maneuvers such as rapid acceleration, swerving or hard braking.

Personally, I can’t pretend like I wasn’t a terrible driver when I was living in my parent’s house — on their insurance and in their car. It took me years and four accidents — one of which was life threatening — to learn how to drive while distracted (DWD). I’m not making light of the DWD’s serious consequences, but my point is that even after being in the hospital at 19, hoping that I was able to drive another day, I’m still a distracted driver.

My home state of California has banned cellphones use without a headpiece, but that still doesn’t stop me from being distracted. I might eat, drink, look for a street sign in a dimly lit Georgia rode, or engage in a lively conversation while driving. Thus, it’s not just teenagers acting reckless in the driver’s seat, it’s a grown-ass man.

In a effort to help consumers drive safer, most car manufactures are now putting the distracting gadgets in the dashboard. I can’t be the only one who looks a second or two too long at the GPS system while trying to turn the channel on the satellite radio.

Looking back at the study, gender played a role in what kind of distracting behavior teens engaged in. Young girls were observed texting while driving far more often than boys while boys were more likely to turn around in their seat while talking with passengers.

Expectedly, distracted behavior was curtailed when the teen’s parents were riding with them.

“A second may not seem like much, but at 65 mph a car travels the length of a basketball court in a single second,” Kissinger said. “That extra second can mean the difference between managed risk and tragedy for any driver.”

Traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death for young Americans, prompting the AAA Foundation’s focus on teen driver safety.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Shane – I work for a personal injury law firm here in Houston, TX. We’ve seen the number of cases involving distracted driving increase significantly over the past few years. I agree with you – people get distracted. They will always get distracted; doesn’t matter whether they are driving or not. But there are many distractions that we can limit. In terms of cell phone use, a combination of legislation, technology and awareness working together will hopefully help to curb the practice.

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing! – Aly

  2. With the addition of dashboard distractions; GPS, music, even social media, I can’t imagine what teenage drivers are dealing with today. I’m lucky that I can change the radio volume and channel with my steering wheel rather than my dashboard, but I can imagine for a new driver in those few seconds it takes to change the channel anything can happen. Hopefully, parents keep encouraging their children to stay road away, while state and federal governments consider the dangers of cell phones in the hands of an experienced driver.

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