Teen Drivers and Distraction
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous temptations for newly licensed teen drivers.
While parents with children still living at home were found to be the group of drivers most distracted by technology in AAA Washington’s 2018 research, the 16- and 17-year old drivers in the survey admitted to engaging in the same unsafe behaviors at least once in the past 30 days.
- 96% set navigation program while driving
- 86% read a text
- 82% answered a call
- 78% sent a text
Another 78 percent of teen drivers reported answering a call using a hands-free system. Washington law bans any use of a cell phone or wireless communication device, INCLUDING hands-free options, while driving with a driving permit or intermediate license.
Despite those alarming numbers, the greatest risk to teen drivers is not technology but the distractions caused when driving with friends. New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in a vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increased 51 percent.
Replace those teen passengers with people who are 35 years or older and the overall fatality rates in crashes decreased eight percent.
The increased risks underline just how important it is that parents get involved in their teen driver’s training, set rules and enforce them, and spend lots of hours with them behind the wheel, even more than is required by law.
AAA offers the following tips to parents of teen drivers, starting with supervised training – parents in the passenger seat acting as coach.
- Require that teens log at least 100 hours of supervised practice before driving solo
- Begin by practicing driving in low-risk situations, gradually moving to more complex situations: highways, nighttime, driving in the rain, and on and around challenging roadways.
- Allow no more than one non-family passenger under the age of 20 during the first six months of driving
- Use slightly different routes each practice session
- Practice adjusting speed based on visibility, traffic and different weather conditions
Find more coaching tips and teen driving resources at TeenDriving.AAA.com.