Protect Young Drivers from Distracted Driving
Many teens experience their first taste of freedom when they obtain their driver’s license. However, operating a motor vehicle comes with many responsibilities, not the least of which is to ensure you exercise caution when behind the wheel. Teenagers must appreciate that drivers are responsible for a particular duty of care to other drivers and that they must behave responsibly at all times.
Due to their lack of life experience, teens often feel invincible, especially while driving. While many teens may think, “I would never get in an accident” or “That could never happen to me,” accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Distractions behind the wheel only increase the risk of a crash.
A leading cause of teen car accidents is distracted driving. Many teens confess to feeling pressured to stay connected to social media on their phones while driving. Though some apps can be used for safety, instant communication apps like Snapchat may compel teens to send a “snap” photo while driving, which can be even more dangerous than texting and driving.
It is crucial for teens to ignore the pressures of friends and the ever-increasing connectedness to social media to protect themselves and protect other drivers on the road.
While cell phone use is one of the most prominent distractions that lead to car accidents, distracted driving can also include trying to find directions, eating or drinking a beverage, watching videos, reading, grooming, applying makeup, or any other distraction in the car, including pets or other passengers. A driver’s negligence due to distracted driving is considered a breach of the duty of care, and a distracted driver can be held responsible for injuries to others and other damage caused an accident.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Not only are you putting yourself in danger by allowing distractions inside the vehicle to occupy your attention, but you are also putting other drivers, passengers, bikers, and even pedestrians at risk. Consequences of distracted driving can lead to severe and sometimes fatal injuries. In the case of texting while driving, no one wants a text message to be his or her last words.
Unfortunately, distracted driving claims the lives of thousands each year and injures even more than that. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives in 2015. NHTSA also says that there were 391,000 people injured by distracted driving in 2015.
Distracted driving happens a lot more often than we care to admit. There are an estimated 660,000 drivers a day who use their phones while driving.
Teens were responsible for the highest amount of accidents caused by distracted driving. An inexperienced driver does not have the knowledge, practice, or muscle memory that a more experienced driver has when it comes to different challenges and conditions that drivers face. Therefore, it is especially important for teen drivers to remain vigilant while driving and avoid distractions at all times.
How to Prevent Distracted Driving Among Teen Drivers
While many people will insist that they are excellent at multi-tasking, the reality is that you can only process so much information at any time. This means that even a momentary distraction behind the wheel that causes your attention to shift from focusing on the road to something else can be extremely dangerous and may result in a collision.
In order to prevent your teens from driving while distracted, parents, educators, and employers alike can educate teen drivers about how to minimize distractions by:
- Limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle. Some states (including Missouri) have graduated driver’s license laws that prevent teens with learner’s permits or intermediate driver’s licenses from having more than one person in the vehicle who is under 19 and is not in their immediate family. Parents should implement the same rules until their teen has the experience and maturity to handle having more than one passenger in the vehicle at a time to reduce potential distractions.
- Using phones only for emergencies. Make sure your teen focuses on the goal of driving: getting to and from their destination. Encourage your teen to put their phones away in the center console or glove compartment while driving. Even hands-free devices can be distracting, so tell them the conversation can wait until they reach their destination.
- Never driving while intoxicated. Teens should know right from the start that drinking and driving never mix. While the majority of parents expect their teenagers to stay sober anyway, it is a good lesson to enforce from the very start of their driving experience, and parents should always lead by example.
- Pulling to the side of the road if you are tired. Teach your teen that drowsy driving is as bad as drunk driving. If they find themselves tired while driving, tell them to pull over and rest. No matter where you are headed, getting there is never worth the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Getting ready for school or work before you get in the car. Teach your teens that grooming and daily preparation should be done at home or at school. The car is no place to get ready for the day.
- Eating your meals outside of the car. While finishing breakfast or eating a snack may seem like a time-saver for on-the-go teens, remind them that distractions like eating while driving can have serious consequences. Encourage them to finish their meals or snacks away from the vehicle, and then head to their destination.
- Focusing on the task at hand. Changing the song on the stereo, talking to friends, and checking directions are all a part of daily life, but these actions are also distractions that can cause life-threatening accidents. Remind your teen that paying attention to the road and other drivers is their number one focus in the car. Everything else can wait.
Distracted Driving in Missouri
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Missouri bans texting for drivers under the age of 21 and restricts phone usage while driving, outside of making phone calls. Unfortunately, many people ignore these texting-and-driving laws, and the statutes do not cover the entire spectrum of possible distractions in the vehicle. Injury accidents often occur as a result.
The team at Bruning Law Firm encourages everyone to be safe behind the wheel and avoid distractions. All it takes is a split-second to forever alter the lives of the driver, passengers in the vehicle, and other people on the road. We encourage the parents of teenage drivers to discuss the risks they take when talking on the phone, texting, eating, grooming, and interacting with passengers. By educating our children on the dangers of distracted driving, we can save the lives of our teens, and save the lives of others.
Contact Us Today
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver or other form of carelessness, The Bruning Law Firm is here to help. Our team of compassionate, experienced car accident attorneys know what you are going through, and we are ready to help you seek the compensation you are owed.
With The Bruning Law Firm, you get “The Results You Need. The Service You Deserve.” Call us or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.