Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States? People often say, “I can do two things at once. I’ve memorized where the letters and numbers are on my phone, so I don’t have to look.” Or, “Sending or reading one text is pretty quick – that should be okay.” This couldn’t be more wrong.
Unfortunately, texting is the most dangerous of all distractions because it involves manual, visual and cognitive distractions simultaneously. Sending or reading a text takes one’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded.
As teens, we are taught at a young age about the dangers of drunk driving and the importance of wearing seat belts – both very important. But there is another traffic safety issue we must take seriously as well so we can all stay safe behind the wheel: distracted driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving is not a passing fad. It has become a trend with real deadly consequences.
For anyone who thinks they can talk on their phone, check alerts, notifications, posts, updates or any other distracting phone activities while driving, it’s time for a crash course in reality. Let’s take a pledge for ourselves and the ones we love. What better time to create awareness than this month during the 10-year Anniversary of National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 15 – 21, 2017. Let’s be Advocates for one another!
FACTS ABOUT DWI – DRIVING WHILE INTEXTICATING
• In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and approximately 491,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA)
• Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to be involved in a serious crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
• 75% of teen drivers say texting while driving is “common among their friends.” (AT&T Teen Driver Survey)
• The percentage of drivers’ text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2014 to 2.2 percent in 2015. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers. (NHTSA)
• Tests have shown that if you text while you’re behind the wheel, you’re 20 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a non-distracted driver. (NHTSA)
• 10% of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. (NHTSA)
• During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens, the youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, and are the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes. (NHTSA)
One Text or Call Could WRECK IT ALL
While those numbers may sound like just statistics, they’re anything but. They could be your parents, children, neighbors or friends from your community. There are too many sad tales of deaths and injuries that could have been prevented had drivers been paying attention to the road instead of their phone.
So, what can we do? We become advocates for ourselves and each other because…Distracted Driving is Never OK! That’s why we should all join organizations like AT&T to help make our roads safe through positive and empowering initiatives like – It Can Wait, the national movement to end distracted driving.
How BIG is the Distracted Driving Epidemic?
Smartphone distracted driving is a pervasive problem.
• 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving.
• 62% keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.
• Nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And 1-in-10 video chat!
• Facebook tops the social platform list — more than a quarter of those polled use the app while driving. About 1-in-7 said they’re on Twitter behind the wheel.
• Many of these numbers speak to Teens. Just add this fact – Teens have the reaction time of a 70-year-old when distracted while driving and performing social media tasks above.
Habitual behaviors play a strong role in distracted driving.
• For 1-in-3 drivers distracted driving is a habit.
• Habitual distracted drivers have a false sense of security in their actions. Only 58% feel that using their smartphone behind the wheel is “very dangerous,” compared to 78% of non-habitual distracted drivers.Ironically, they’re also twice as likely to have been involved in a near crash or a collision.
We behave differently.
• With passengers in the car – only 36% of drivers look at their smartphone, compared to more than 6-in-10 (64%) without a passenger in the car.
• When the passenger riding with us is a child we look at our phones less.
• When we put our phones on silent. Put it away. Out of sight. Out of Mind. We’re less tempted to respond.
• When we hand over our phone and pass it off to the passenger, we avoid the temptation to use our phone while driving.
Yes, distracted driving is a national problem! I invite us all to spread the word and have a serious discussion with our families and friends! Let’s make our roads safer and save the lives of the ones we love! Lend your voice to the movement and use the phones distraction free tools available. TAKE THE PLEDGE! The more we talk about it, the more change we can create! https://www.itcanwait.com/home
Lou (Miss Winter Park Teen USA) has been selected to represent her city due to her high academic standing and commitment to over 700 hours of community service. She also takes pride in the fact that she is a faith based teen, a spirited athlete and is on a mission to promote confidence in young women across the USA! Lou’s admiration for STEM, entrepreneurship and social justice has her eyes set on Law School and her father’s alma mater Harvard University. This year Lou has been sharing with her peers the important message of – Stay Alive, Don’t Text & Drive – the AT & T initiative against Teen Texting…It Can WAIT!