Teens and distracted driving: What parents should know

Most drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, as they are about the risks of drunk driving, fatigued driving and so on. While many commonly associated distracted driving as being on a cell phone, distractions can also include eating, putting on makeup, talking with passengers or doing any activity that can divert attention away from the task of driving.

Unfortunately, it is often the newest drivers on the roads who drive while distracted. As a parent, what should you know about the risks of teen drivers and distractions?

1. More than half of teenage drivers admit to distracted driving

A recent AAA crash study found that roughly 52% of teen drivers admitted to reading a text or email while behind the wheel. About 40% admitted to sending a text or email while driving. Furthermore, between 2013 and 2017, distracted teen drivers led to nearly 3,500 deaths across the country.

2. Using a phone while driving increases the risk of a crash by three times

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, dialing, talking or texting on a cell phone while driving increases the risk of a crash by three times. Because of this, using a phone while behind the wheel is not just dangerous in California – it is illegal. Drivers above the age of 18 can only use hands-free phones while driving, while drivers under the age of 18 cannot use a phone in any capacity.

3. Phones are not the only risky distractions for teen drivers

As mentioned above, distracted driving is often associated only with cell phone use. However, young drivers who are new on the roads can also be easily distracted simply by having multiple passengers in the vehicle with them. In fact, an AAA study found that a teen driver’s risk of being killed in a crash quadruples when carrying three or more passengers in the vehicle who are under the age of 21.

As some of the newest drivers on the roads, teens are already at risk behind the wheel. Parents should do their part to talk to and educate their children about the dangers of distracted driving, as well as lead by example by refraining from driving while distracted.