April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and it’s a great time to talk to your teenager about the dangers of distracted driving. Most anti-texting-while-driving campaigns focus their message on teenagers, and presumably should. Teens have the least driving experience and it seems like they are on their phone 24/7. According to a 2011 Pew Internet study, 18 to 24-year-olds averaged over 100 text messages per day. This is four times the average for 35 to 44-year-olds, and 10 times the average for 55 to 64-year-olds.
Not surprising information – we know teens text more frequently than their elders. But you may be interested to learn that teens are not the greatest offenders when it comes to texting while driving…adults are. A recent AT&T survey of over 1,000 commuters age 18 and older with cellphones found that adults text more often while driving than teens. With 180 million adult drivers on the road, that means a lot more distracted drivers.
Distracted driving significantly increases the likelihood of an accident. According to an article in USA Today, “Researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds — about as long as it takes to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph. The researchers found that texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.”
To address the dangers of distracted driving, many states have passed cell phone and texting bans into law. Thirty-nine states ban text messaging for all drivers. Text messaging bans are considered in many states as a primary offense. This means a driver can be stopped by a police officer for the sole reason of texting while driving. If cited, you could face a fine much like a speeding ticket and, you guessed it, it’s likely your insurance rates could go up too. For information on your state’s bans, check out the Governors Highway Safety Association website.
Whether you want them to or not, children watch our every move. Consider your actions the next time you’re in a vehicle with your son or daughter. Do they see you texting or using your phone while driving? Your actions speak louder than any commercial about distracted driving. Set an example for your children and drive cell-free.