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Distraction and the drivers who can least afford it

No one can afford to be distracted while driving. It is impossible to operate a motor vehicle safely while also completing any of the myriad tasks smartphones can perform. While no driver can afford to succumb to distraction, younger drivers are particularly susceptible to accidents caused by distraction. The experience and judgment that make safe driving possible are absent in new drivers. When combined with attention-grabbing phones, it is recipe for tragedy.

Teens are ignoring the law

Given the statistics on younger drivers, it should come as no surprise that many teens are using their cell phones despite laws banning the practice. Teen fatality rates in car accidents have long been tied to young drivers and passengers not wearing their seat belts. The law has not been able to get teens to buckle up at the same rates as older drivers. Similarly, teens are talking and texting while they drive even in states where it is a violation of the law.

Texting versus talking bans

The information on teen driver behavior is part of a survey conducted by the AAA. Among the biggest takeaways from that survey is that some bans are more effective than others. States with a ban on texting and driving only accomplished little in changing teen driver behavior. States that banned handheld cell phone use of any kind were more effective.

Legislators looking to reduce distracted driving accidents should look to outright bans on handheld cell phone use. Studies have shown that talking on the phone is as distracting and dangerous as texting. Parents looking to help their teens should model good behavior by refraining from using the cell phone while driving. They should also speak frankly with their children about the dangers of distracted driving.

Source: Safety and Health, "Teens ignoring bans on texting while driving, study shows," 28 February 2018

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