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Why Is Distracted Driving A Problem For Teenage Drivers?

Reducing Distracted Driving Among Teens

When most people think of distractions on the road they consider drowsy driving, impaired driving, and drunk driving. However, when it comes to teens and distracted driving the real enemy of safety is electronic devices. Any parent of a teenager knows how ridiculous teens have become with their texting. The reality is handheld cell phones are the primary cause of distracted driving among newly licensed teens, and the behavior is not only extremely dangerous but can have a life-altering impact on the texter and others. That is why we are going to take a closer look at teen driver distraction and what parents can do to improve driving safety!

Risk-Taking Behavior In Adolescence

Risk-Taking Behaviors Could Be Due To Brain Development

Before we get into the topic of teen distraction, let’s take a closer look at the science behind it all. Every day teens engage in risk-taking behaviors that could potentially put their lives in danger. Neuroscientists and researchers now believe that the risk-taking behaviors that teens frequently engage in are due to a lack of development in a specific portion of the brain that is responsible for executive decision-making and planning. Unfortunately, risk-taking can lead to a serious situation, especially among novice drivers. With the combination of risky driving, inexperience behind the wheel, and electronic devices, it is easy to see the increase in crash risk is a very serious concern for parents. Even more so with statistics highlighting that car accidents are the main cause of premature death among teens.

No Phone Zone Oprah

The danger of distracted driving is so great among newly licensed teen drivers that even celebrities are lending their voices to help enhance safe driving. One of those influencers leading the charge on traffic safety is Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah created an educational program and campaign called the “no phone zone“. In fact, one of her frequent guests, Dr. Phil, has done numerous shows on the dangers of texting and the need for tougher distracted driving laws. Although it is common to see typical suburban mothers and businessmen talk on their cell phones while driving, teens are the number one distracted driver group. This is why student drivers, those with a learner’s permit, and adult drivers under the age of 25 need to understand that playing with handheld phones while driving can lead to a fatal crash.

Parents need to make teens aware that irresponsible teen driving can result in a traffic citation, revoked driver’s license, or even worse, a fatal accident that could result in the death of teen passengers.

So what are parents doing to help make sure that their teen drivers are following the rules of the road?

5 Tips To Stop Distracted Driving

  1. Put your cell phone in a purse, glove box, or any location you can’t easily access it
  2. Adjust your seats and mirrors before you begin driving
  3. If you accidentally drop something don’t try and reach for it
  4. Make sure you know where you are going before you begin your travel
  5. Have your meals/snacks before you drive

Related Article: How To Get Over Your Fears Of Driving

How Can I Protect My Teenager – GPS Tracking Devices

How Parents Can Shape Safe Driving Behaviors

OBD2 tracker


Talking on the phone, texting, and browsing social media are all risky behaviors when done while driving. According to the AAA Foundation, engaging in distracted driver behaviors is nearly as dangerous as driving without seat belts. However, speeding is another problem when it comes to driver safety. This is the reason why organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations encourage parents to invest in safe driving tools such as GPS tracking devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Distracted Driving, And Why Is It Especially Dangerous For Teen Drivers?

According to the CDC, distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio. Teen drivers are particularly susceptible to distraction because they are inexperienced and may overestimate their driving skills, making them more likely to engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, 8% of all drivers aged 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.

How Does Distracted Driving Affect A Teenager’s Ability To Drive Safely?

Distracted driving can impair a teen’s ability to react to potential hazards on the road, reducing their response time and increasing their risk of a crash. Texting or emailing while driving, for example, takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is enough time to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph. According to the Pew Research Center, about half of all teens say they have been in a car when the driver was texting or emailing.

What Can Parents Do To Help Prevent Distracted Driving Among Their Teenage Drivers?

Parents can talk to their teens about the dangers of distracted driving and set clear rules and expectations for their behavior behind the wheel. This includes not using cell phones while driving, limiting the number of passengers in the car, and establishing a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system, which slowly introduces novice drivers to the driving experience. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends that parents spend at least 50 hours supervising their teen’s driving before they obtain their license.

What Are Some Common Distractions For Teen Drivers, And How Can They Be Avoided?

Common distractions for teen drivers include using a cell phone, eating or drinking, playing music too loudly, and talking with passengers. These distractions can be avoided by setting a good example as a parent, modeling safe driving behavior, and setting clear rules for your teen. Parents can also consider enrolling their teens in driver education programs that emphasize safe driving behaviors and the rules of the road.

How Effective Are Laws And Policies In Preventing Distracted Driving Among Teenage Drivers?

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws have been effective in reducing the crash risk for novice teen drivers. GDL laws typically include passenger restrictions, nighttime driving restrictions, and a minimum age requirement for obtaining a license. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), states with strong GDL laws have experienced a 30% reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. Additionally, many states have enacted laws prohibiting texting while driving, which can help to reduce the number of distracted driving crashes.

Joy Nguyen
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