New drivers and teens may think that they’re able to handle distracted driving, such as texting on a cell phone, eating, or adjusting controls, but statistics suggest otherwise. Distracted drivers are three times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers, and international research shows that 20 to 30 percent of all collisions involve driver distraction.
Texting while driving is a worldwide problem. In the United States, more than 15 people are killed and 1,200 people are injured in crashes every day that involves distracted driving. Several states, like Florida, do not have distracted driving laws. But the city of Tampa recently held Florida’s first distracted driving summit and proposed a bill to address distracted driving. New laws could decrease the number of statewide personal injury cases, serious medical complications, and lost lives due to automobile accidents.
Many people know that there are increased risks of accidents when drivers text behind the wheel. But it might be difficult for teens and new drivers to kick the habit themselves, or to encourage their friends not the type a message while they’re at the wheel. Although many people believe that a driver who sends or reads a text message is unsafe, a study found that only about half of drivers under the age of 25 would say something to a driver who was sending a text message while driving. Here are a few tips to help teens and new drivers stay safe on the road:
Be a Role Model
Texting on your cell phone doubles your reaction time, and it’s important for you to focus on the road, especially when you’re in the car with family or friends. Using your phone while driving can imply that’ it’s okay for them to do when they’re behind the wheel. . If you make a point to stay focused on driving, it will be easier for you to ask for the same courtesy if your friend is texting while driving.
Resist Texting at Red Lights
Even though you may be stopped at a red light, your attention should still be on the road to look out for other drivers and individuals who may not be paying attention. Texting as you roll to a stop could lead you to crash into the car ahead, or you may not be able to see if another driver swerves into your lane. If you’re on the road, your attention should be on your surroundings, not on the screen of your cell phone.
Consider Apps That Monitor Driving
According to a study by AT&T, 90 percent of teens expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less, which puts pressure on them to respond while driving. AT&T has launched DriveMode, which helps curb the urge to text and drive. If anyone texts you, the DriveMode program automatically sends a reply that lets the sender know you are driving and can’t respond.
Is it Really Worth the Danger?
Young drivers are more likely to use a hand-held cell phone compared to drivers over the age of 25, and the average text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. That’s equivalent to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph – blind. You may think that one quick text isn’t risky, but accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.
How to Handle Driver’s Who Won’t Stop Texting
You can take a direct approach and tell them it makes you nervous, uncomfortable, and that you’d like them to stop. Or if you prefer a more subtle approach, you can offer to type the text for them or point out things that they’ve missed seeing or have almost hit. If your friend makes fun of you for being nervous, then avoid riding with them. If they’re willing to put your lives in jeopardy for a simple text even after you’ve asked them to stop, they’re probably not someone you want to hang around.
Note: This is a guest post form Ashley Burns a recent college graduate majoring in creative writing, Ashley is a passionate writer who is looking to help spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving. Ashley works for a Tampa personal injury firm.