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The Truth About Teenagers and Distracted Driving

Teens get a lot of flack for distracted driving habits. Is the tongue-lashing deserved?

Teens get a lot of flack for their distracted driving habits. Is the tongue-lashing linked to facts, or is it another example of unfounded complaints about youngsters? Take a look at the numbers below and decide for yourself.

• According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes

• Teens using a cell phone before a crash failed to react more than half of the time prior to impact – that means no steering or breaking to lessen the impact

• In 15% of all teen accidents attributed to distraction, the distraction was other passengers

• Handheld cell phone use is highest among drivers ages of 16 and 24, and lowest among drivers 70 and older

These statistics might make it seem like teens drivers are the ones doing the most distracted driving, but that reading would be incomplete.

• According to a Pew survey, 27% of U.S. adults admit to texting while behind the wheel, and 26% of teens admit to doing so

75% of cellphone-owning adults say they have talked on the phone while driving, while only 52% of cell-owning teens aged 16-17 admit to doing the same

What’s going on here? The numbers seem to suggest that while adults are just as guilty of distracted driving, teens’ relatively minimal experience means that engaging in the same behaviors is more likely to result in an accident. In the United States, the fatal crash rate per mile driven is nearly 3 times higher for 16-19-year-olds than for drivers who are 20 or older.

It isn’t fair to say that teens universally and inarguably commit more distracted driving infractions, but it’s clear that their doing so presents even greater risks. To help keep your teens safe, encourage them to use apps to stop distracted driving or, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, consider choosing one with technologies designed to minimize risk. This message is proudly sponsored by WMC Tri-State Medical Network.

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