Understanding teen distracted driving

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The results of a recent national survey on distracted driving were revealed at a National Press Club news conference. The survey was conducted by Prince market Research and was sponsored by Bridgestone Americas, a Nashville tire manufacturer.

More than 2,000 drivers aged 15 to 21 took part in the online survey. Angela Patterson, manager of the Teens Drive Smart program for Bridgestone, presented the findings. “This age group simply does not believe they are at risk,” Ms. Patterson stated.

Even though more than half of the teens surveyed agreed that driving while distracted was dangerous, they demonstrated a disconnect between that knowledge and avoidance of those dangerous activities. The young drivers believed that they were not given to behind the wheel distraction or felt they would take precautions to avoid distraction. Survey participants were asked “Given that driving while distracted can be dangerous, why do you do it?” David Teater, senior director of transportation initiatives for the National Safety Council, stated “They are aware of the risks but engage in them any way, and to some extent minimize the risks because they haven’t been in a crash…awareness is not nearly enough to change most peoples’ behaviors. In addition to education, we also need good laws that are well enforced, and safety engineering solutions.”

Some young drivers believed they were safe drivers simply because they had not been cited for traffic violations or had not been in an accident. While a third of the survey participants admitted to reading texts while driving, a fourth did not believe that talking on a cell phone while driving was hazardous and two-thirds felt that they were “very safe” drivers.

Even though young males typically engage in riskier behavior than females, this survey disclosed that young women are much more prone to distracted driving.

Also interesting was the disclosure that the young drivers surveyed believed that their parents engaged in more distracted driving than the young drivers. Ms. Patterson said the young drivers feel “It must be O.K.” since their parents are doing it. “They are learning bad habits from us.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood addressed the conference. He called distracted driving a “deadly epidemic,” that is especially prevalent among young drivers.

For more information on motor vehicle accidents due to distracted driving, contact the Ohio distracted driving accident attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.

Source: New York Times, Wheels Blog, “Understanding the Motive Behind Teens’ Distracted Driving, Tanya Mohn, April 24, 2012.