Teen drivers: Put phones away when you’re behind the wheel

Drivers Texting

Texting and driving makes a person 23 times more likely to crash, study shows

By ALANA MARSH
STAFF WRITER

Motor Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers, killing 5,000 to 6,000 teens every year. Unsafe driving threatens our lives everyday and is an issue that must be addressed.

Stacey DeWitt, founder and chief executive officer of Connect with Kids, says that distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents. Speeding, cell phone usage, and pressures from friends are just some distractions a teen driver must avoid in order to stay safe behind the wheel.

We hear about the danger of texting while driving every day, but according to textinganddrivingsafety.com, Seventy-seven percent of young drivers say they are “very or somewhat confident that they can safely drive while texting,” and 55 percent claim texting while driving is easy.

While it may seem to the driver that there is nothing wrong with their driving while they text, this site also shows that teens who text and drive are actually driving outside of the lane about 10 percent of the time posing a serious threat to everyone on the road.

eSomethin.com decided to investigate and found that many students do not see texting and driving as a problem.

“I use my phone to change music or text someone [while driving], but only when I’m by myself,” said one student.

Unfortunately this seems to be the mindset of many students at PHS, but according to a study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting and driving makes a person 23 times more likely to crash and is the same as driving after four beers.

“Teens should try to focus on the road,” says senior Angela Panzero, “and not get distracted, and not have your phone near you when you drive.”

Speeding is another aspect of driving that many teens seem to have become apathetic about. “I speed on some neighborhood streets if I’m in a hurry sometimes, but mostly because I am impatient,” claims another PHS student driver.

Allstate Auto Insurance reports that 55 percent of teenage drivers admit “they exceed the speed limit by more than 10 [mph].” Another 69 percent of teens say they speed in order to keep up with traffic, which shows that teens are not the only ones to blame. According to consumerreports.com, “speeding kills nearly 900 Americans every month.”

Dallas Stiles

Dallas Stiles

Senior Dallas Stiles sums it up by saying that to promote safe driving teens should “put the phone away, avoid speeding, always wear a seat belt, not have super loud music, and make sure to keep eyes on the road.”

If all drivers would follow this advice, our roads would be much safer. Other driving distractions include such things as having too many people in the car, eating or drinking, and being tired.

Sleepcenter.ucla.edu states that even just driving drowsy produces a slow reaction time from the driver and causes them to make bad decisions. The site says drivers should definitely make sure they get an adequate amount of sleep before getting behind the wheel.

These are just a few of many ways that teen drivers can be safe on the road. Students should pass the message to their friends that driving safe is important for their schools and communities, and especially for themselves and their futures.

KeeptheDrive.com is an interactive site which helps teens do just that. The site promotes and gives teens a way to help spread the message about safe driving. The site states that it was created to let the teens do the talking, and gives practical tools and ideas for how to do it.

And according to Allstate, “By empowering teens to become part of the solution, and by celebrating their driving experiences, The Allstate Foundation Teen Driving Program takes a positive approach to addressing the No. 1 killer of teens and making smart driving socially acceptable among teens themselves.”

Let’s drive, but let’s drive safe.

Contact Alana Marsh at: alana1713@gmail.com

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