Our firm has posted numerous messages on social media about the dangers of
texting and driving. There is no question about those dangers, and parents of teenage drivers
should be particularly concerned about them.
However, a new study issued by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety
reminds us that cell phones are not the only things which create distractions
for teen drivers. The study found there are multiple distractions which
can cause driving errors. Those include loud conversation, turning around
to face a passenger in conversation, eating or drinking, personal hygiene
(such as using the rear-view mirror to put on makeup), or adjusting controls.
There were some interesting differences in the distracted behaviors shown
by males vs. females. Teen girls were more likely to adjust controls in
the car, while teen boys were more likely to face a passenger while having
a conversation. But both genders were equally likely to engage in loud
conversation with their passengers.
Obviously, any passenger can distract a driver. However, AAA’s study
who the passengers are makes a big difference for distraction potential. Teen
drivers were more than twice as likely to engage in distracted behaviors
when there were multiple friends in the car.
Most people would not need a study to tell them a car full of teenagers
can be a dangerous thing. What the study makes clear, however, is that
the presence of a parent or adult in the car can prevent or stifle a lot
of bad driving behavior. The study found loud conversation or horseplay
were much less likely if at least one of the passengers was a sibling,
parent, or other adult. Teen drivers generally behaved better in the presence
of those people.
To conclude, parents or other adults responsible for teens should do a
few common sense things:
1) Avoid situations where your teen driver is carrying a carload of other
teens, especially during “recreational” times like evenings
and weekends. Whenever possible, have them give a ride to one friend only.
2) If your child is going to carry more than one friend in the car, put
a damper on the rolling party atmosphere by having an adult in the car
as well. When that’s impossible, a sibling in a different age group
might help. Your designated passenger may have to endure some really bad
music, but remember that it’s a small price to pay for safety.
3) Don’t just forbid the use of phones or tablets. Forbid reading,
putting on makeup, and changing CDs or music on other media. Also, ban
eating and drinking in the car. It will make your child safer, and as
a bonus, may keep the car free from the smell of stale French fries.
If you would like more information about the dangers your teenager may
face on the road, or have a potential case and need legal advice,
contact Roman & Gaynor today for support!