Despite countless attempts to curb distracted driving in all motorists, it remains a serious issue: in 2018, distracted driving accounted for over 2,800 deaths alone. One of the most effective ways to combat distracted driving is to prevent it in teenage drivers, teaching them good driving habits that they continue to follow into their adult years.
Here are some of the best tips that teen drivers should follow to prevent distracted driving and car accidents.
Commit to Not Using Your Phone When Driving
It is not an overstatement to say that phone use is the most common form of distracted driving. Whether you are texting, sending messages, updating your status, livestreaming, or even browsing the Internet, using your phone is one of the most distracting behaviors while driving. This is because is qualifies under all three major types of distraction:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your full attention off the road
One of the most oft-quoted statistics is that, in the time that it takes someone to send a text, at 55mph they could drive the entire length of a football field. In these days, this statistic may be outdated, due to the other more involved distractions we may have while on our phone. People are sending longer texts, recording videos, and reading news stories for far longer than the aforementioned statistic.
Unless it is an absolute emergency, there is no need to use a phone while driving.
Avoid Eating While Driving
According to a study by Exxon Mobil, 70% of drivers eat while driving, while 83% drink beverages. That is a large population that persists in a constant visual and manual distraction while on the road.
Studies have shown that these distractions can significantly affect your reaction times behind the wheel. Your reaction time may be reduced by as much as 22% when drinking, and as much as 44% when eating while driving.
Additionally, further studies show that those who eat and drink while driving are 3.6 times more likely to be in a car crash than those who do not.
It is simply not worth it to save time by eating while driving to a destination.
Limit the Number of Passengers in Your Car
The number of passengers can be a significant distraction to most drivers – especially those with families and children. However, studies have shown that teen drivers are more susceptible to unsafe driving with passengers in the vehicle. This is often not because the passengers themselves are distracting, but they increase the chances of more distracting behavior.
A 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the chances of a teen driver engaging in one or more risky behaviors increases with the number of other teen passengers in the vehicle. According to the study, teens with two or more passengers were over three times more likely to engage in at least one risky behavior than if they were driving alone.
Although passengers may help to prevent solo teen drivers from engaging in other distractions to keep occupied, the evidence clearly shows that they can be as equally distracting.
Decide on Your Music and Your Route Before You Drive
Choosing music or entering directions to your destination on your GPS or navigation app can be just as distracting as texting while driving. It often takes longer for teens to choose their music or enter GPS coordinates than texting or even phone calls.
In these situations, it is highly recommended to complete these actions in a way that minimizes distractions while driving. The NHTSA recommends relying on voice functionality to change music or set routes; automobiles with programs such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto pre-installed are often the easiest way to do so.
However, the best option is to simply decide on these things before you hit the road.
Speak Up If a Friend is Driving While Distracted
It is highly encouraged to talk to your friends if you encounter them engaging in distracted driving. Teenagers often put the most trust in the words of their peers; speaking out against any risky behaviors may help them recognize that they may be potentially endangering the lives of their friends.
We often rely on our friends for honest, valuable feedback—and most importantly, we make sure to listen to them. When it comes to distracted driving, the same should apply.