Do you know what “this” is?
- According to a nationwide study, this is responsible for 80 percent of all car crashes
- Teens have the highest crash rate due to this
- You see this every day on the road
What is this? Distracted Driving.
According to a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, distracted driving contributes to 58 percent of automobile crashes involving teen drivers. This number is four times previous estimates that were based on police reports.
What is distracting these teens? The study found that 15 percent of the drivers were distracted by interactions with their passenger-usually another teen. Twelve percent were using their cell phone. Other forms of distraction included looking at something IN the vehicle and OUTSIDE the vehicle, dancing and singing, grooming, and reaching for an object. In general, teens are at high risk for motor vehicle crashes due to their relative inexperience and developmental stage. Distractions don’t help.
Education is critical to preventing these crashes from occurring, but it is not the only solution. Law enforcement, parent involvement, and teen peer-to-peer driving safety groups are also effective in raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and UVM Medical Center is offering our anti-texting and driving program, “Txt U L8R” to driver’s education classes. Key elements include a demonstration of an advanced driving simulator, presentation of a realistic trauma scenario, a testimonial from the victim of an accident caused by a teen driver who was texting, and a demonstration of several smartphone apps designed to prevent texting while driving. It is our way of raising awareness and engaging the Vermont youth in this important discussion.
Christina Keating is the Injury Prevention Coordinator in Trauma atThe University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at The University of Vermont Medical Center.