All drivers – but especially teenagers – should think first
and foremost about safety, but cell phones, text messaging and traffic
have taken distractions to an all time high. The result is all time high
numbers of accidents. All drivers are susceptible to these distractions,
but research shows more experienced drivers can control these distractions,
but younger, less experienced driver cannot. As a result, younger, less
experienced drivers cause more accidents.
According to David Hurwitz, an assistant professor of transportation engineering
at the College of Engineering at Oregon State University: “Anything
that takes your attention away, any glance away from the road for 2 seconds
or longer can increase the risk of an accident from 4 to 24 times."
The worst distractions are texting or talking on a cell phone. Studies
show "hands-free" phones are no safer than a hand-held phone
because the real distraction is talking to someone who is not in the car.
And talking on the phone is not the only distraction: eating, drinking,
smoking, adjusting the radio, changing a CD, using GPS also can be dangerous
distractions. Amazingly, a recent study found that 27% of teenagers even
changed clothes or shoes while driving, and worked on homework while driving!
"Interactive" driver simulation programs – like a driver
training video game – can make younger drivers more aware of the
many distractions they face everyday. According to Hurwitz: “Young
people learn better when they are involved in the process, not just sitting
and listening to a lecture, students doing this can see how much better
their awareness and reaction time are when they aren't distracted.”