Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Safety Tips: Texting, Driving and Your Teens

Safety Tips: Texting, driving and your teens

Robert Huttinger, a 25 year old husband and father lost his life with a text that likely could have waited, according to his wife. There are countless stories just like his; many if not most, involving teens. Tennessee law enforcement is now patrolling the streets with unmarked SUV’s to fine those who endanger their lives and the lives of others with distracted driving.

According to the National Safety Council , 28% of accidents are caused by people talking on cell phones or texting while driving.

As parents, we know that our teens often “live to text”.  They are quick and confident, and as teens tend to think that they are invincible. It seems that it is only a tragedy that hits close to home that grabs attention.  Sometimes it's a simple one word text that costs a life.

Below are some phone and texting statistics from the law firm Edgar Snyder and Associates:
  • Despite the risks, the majority of teen drivers ignore cell phone driving restrictions.
  • Talking on a cell phone while driving can make a young driver's reaction time as slow as that of a 70-year-old.
  • 56% of teenagers admit to talking on their cell phones behind the wheel, while 13% admit to texting while driving. (Note: Because this information was given voluntarily by teens, actual cell phone use numbers may be much higher.)
  • 48% of young Americans from 12-17 say they've been in a car while the driver was texting.
  • 52% of 16- and 17-year-old teen drivers confess to making and answering cell phone calls on the road. 34% admit to text messaging while driving. Teens themselves confirm that texting is their number one driving distraction.
  • In 2007, driver distractions, such as using a cell phone or text messaging, contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers.  
  • Each year, 21% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the result of cell phone usage. This result has been expected to grow as much as 4% every year.
Among all ages, texting while driving is about 6 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated. This makes me wonder why the penalty is only a $50.00 fine in Tennessee. If it is so much more dangerous, why are the consequences so vastly different?  I also wonder why, if the majority of Americans believe that talking and texting are the most dangerous “behind the wheel” behaviors, as many as 81% of drivers still do it; parents included.  We know that our children watch what we do more than they listen to what we say.  If we are texting and driving, we diminish the dangers for our observant children.  We also put them at risk when they are in the car with us and we are not practicing what we preach.  When our actions say it isn't serious, it won't be for them either, and it could cost their lives or the lives of others.  I can't imagine recovering from my own or someone else's child's death due to my text messaging and driving. Take some time to re-evaluate your own habits, talk with your driving teens, and set the right example.  There are also some apps available through some companies that will disable phones while they are in motion.  Check with your providers for more information.

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  1. Very timely topic. Tragic accidents can usually be prevented if we think before we act. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Not a good idea to be texting when you are operating a 2,000 lb machine. Let's hope the numerous campaigns out there are getting the message through about the dangers of distracted driving.

  3. You can't control the actions of other drivers. But updating your defensive driving skills can help you avoid the dangers caused by other people's bad driving.



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