Being a new driver isn’t easy. For teens especially, driving requires a ton of focus, practice, and skill. There are more than a few behaviors that teens eventually need to learn to minimize as they begin driving and other strengths they develop as they hit the road.
In the end, one of the biggest risks for teens in learning to drive and eventually getting a license is distracted driving. According to AAA, distractions play a role in nearly six out of 10 teen car crashes, making it a major problem, one to be aware of for any teenager first learning how to drive. And this is evidenced as AAA also reports that teens are 3.9 times more likely to be in accidents than their adult counterparts.
What are the biggest distractions for new drivers? Here are the biggest culprits, as well as how to cut down on the risks.
1. Cell Phones
Without a doubt, cell phones play the largest role in distracted driving accidents. As has become common in our culture, many people, especially teenagers, remain glued to their phones. This becomes a hazard when that behavior immediately detracts from the task at hand: paying full attention to the road.
According to a AAA survey, 48% of Virginians believed the biggest distraction for teens behind the wheel was the use of a mobile phone. With 76% of people ages 13-24 admitting that they’re addicted to their smartphones, this has serious implications for drivers.
TeenSafe’s statistics about the consequences of these implications and actions are extremely serious. According to TeenSafe, Texting while driving increases a teen’s risk of being in an accident by 400%. Teens who text while driving are veering outside of their lane 10% more than if they were not distracted.
When driving, make sure to keep the phone out of your hands. In many cases, this is actually the law. Try keeping your phone in a place that isn’t within your immediate vision. Let friends or family know that you’re driving and won’t be able to respond while driving.
It’s fun to start driving with friends and going on trips together, especially when combined with the thought of independence, but it’s not necessarily a great idea to pile everyone in and go.
According to the DMV, the accident rate greatly increases when other teens get involved. 18% of people surveyed by AAA also agreed that passengers were a source of distraction leading to accidents for teen drivers. The LA Times reports that 15% of accidents in their survey were due to drivers interacting with passengers.
For new drivers, it’s best to keep passengers to a minimum. Many states also have laws about how many teens can be in one new driver’s car. Try to make sure that any conversation or action is moderate in order to focus on the road.
We all get hungry, but lunchtime should wait until after you’re off the road.
The New York Daily News reports that eating is to blame for a huge number of traffic accidents, and for teens, the risk can only increase due to inexperience and other associated distractions. The biggest food culprits behind the accidents were reportedly soup, tacos, and hot dogs, all of which can and should be eaten while the car is parked.
Eat before or after driving to minimize the risk of a food-related car accident. These distractions can be prevented with some planning, so just make sure to think accordingly when decided your meal times.