Distracted driving (here is a classic example published on YouTube by New Jersey 101.5) is one of the primary causes of vehicle accidents among teenagers and younger drivers. The NHTSA says that around nine people die, and over 1,000 people sustain injuries due to crashes resulting from distracted driving here in USA. Six years ago, 3,166 individuals died in distracted driving accidents, and in 2021, distracted driving led to 3,522 deaths.
The AAA Foundation Report states that distracted driving happens due to mobile phone use, but the actual reason for distracted driving is not the phone. The passengers traveling with the driver usually end up being the distraction.
Teenagers below 20 have the highest proportion of fatal crashes associated with distracted driving. Passengers distracting drivers is the most prominent reason for vehicular crashes, amounting to 15%. The second highest reason was texting, at 12%.
These are sad statistics. However, the good news is that distracted driving is controllable to a large extent with tracking devices for vehicles.
For example, you can keep tabs on the driver’s vehicle speed with Vyncs. Just connect the device to the OBD-II port, set the speed limit on the mobile app or web app, and get notified whenever the driver crosses the threshold. While this technology may potentially be used to control phone’s access to the network, many prefer a less restrictive approach to convince the driver not to engage in such activities in the first place. If you know when they are driving and avoid calling them while they are driving, remind them to use hands-free voice activated technology during the trip, and urge friends and family to do the same.
Geozones can be drawn on a digital map to limit the driving radius of your teenage kids. If they take the car outside the boundary, you will be notified instantly. That way, you will stay informed about any change in their driving behavior and you can update your strategy to counter their distracted driving tendencies accordingly.
Vyncs will also alert you whenever it detects bad driving, such as harsh braking or sharp cornering and prevent the driver from any fatal accident. After all, distracted driving is even more dangerous when the driver is making risky moves on the road, particularly at a high speed.
Youngsters are not always attentive to the condition of the vehicle. Vyncs can determine whether the car needs thorough maintenance. You can schedule repairs or take preventative measures so that your teenage children can drive without worrying about their vehicle breaking down. While this may not have much to do with distracted driving prevention, it at least gives you the peace of mind knowing that they are unlikely to be stranded by the road and have an urgent need to call for help from the car. Just in case they do, the 24/7 Vyncs roadside assistance service may come handy.
The rest of the article takes deeper look at the common causes and other measures you can take in order to prevent distracted driving.
Distracted driving comes in many forms;
- Visual - looking away from the road while texting, applying makeup (believe it or not), or using a navigation system.
- Manual – removing hands from the wheel to eat something or adjust the radio.
- Cognitive – not paying attention to driving, like talking on the phone or speaking to passengers, drowsy driving.
Most people take their minds off the road every once in a while. This primarily happens during long, monotonous drives. For some folks, it is a more frequent event that they would want to admit. They drive while another activity or thought whisks their attention and focus away from the road.
It becomes difficult to react and prevent a potential crash when you think of something other than what is happening in front of you. This is even more common among teen drivers with little experience in driving. When your teenagers do not pay attention to the road, their chances of accidents increase significantly, and it affects passengers both inside and outside the vehicle.
Text messaging is a common form of distracted driving, particularly among teenagers. 42% of high school students who drove over 30 days reported sending an email or text while sitting behind the wheel in 2017. In the same year, 9% of all teen motor vehicle crash deaths happened from distracted driving.
For a young individual, it is tempting to take a look at the phone quickly to read or reply to a text while driving. Doing so involves looking away from the road for about five seconds. If you drive at 55 mph, you will cover the length of a football field within five seconds.
Looking at mobile phone screens or texting is related to other life-threatening practices for teenagers. High school students who indulge in frequent texting also,
- Avoid wearing seat belts
- Prefer traveling with a drunk driver
- Drink and drive
These are some sobering statistics to keep in mind while you are preparing to let go the teenage drivers at home on their own to the road.
Some Measures to Prevent Driver Distraction
Talk to your teenagers about what they can do to drive safely. The following pointers may be helpful.
- Your kids should finish personal grooming and dressing at home. The car is not the place for that, particularly when they are driving.
- They must choose the route and inspect traffic conditions way ahead of time.
- Keep all loose items inside the dashboard compartment so that they are unreachable. If something does roll around, the driver should not attempt to reach for it until parked with the ignition off.
- Ask your kids to adjust things, like seats, GPS, climate controls, mirrors, and sound systems, before starting a trip.
- Regularly engage your kids in a discussion about distracted driving and mobile phone usage. Create a culture to avoid distracted driving at home in order to minimize the temptation to use the phone while driving. They must put electronic distractions aside before leaving. Texting, sending emails, playing video games, or using the internet is an absolute no-no while driving.
- Scan the road actively, use mirrors, and keep tabs on pedestrians and cyclists.
- Drivers should ask passengers for help him/her focus on the road and minimize distraction.
- If anything distracts the person behind the steering wheel and needs immediate attention, they must not attempt to do so while driving. Instead, they should pull off the road and stop the car in a safe spot.
- As always, get a telematics device like Vyncs in order to get a better sense of where they are and how they drive so that you can better manage distracted driving habits.