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Distracted Driving

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Victoria Busgith
Dr. Polistena-D’Agosto
Comp II 3307
30 November 2014

Distracted Driving: Learn From Example

How does Distracted Driving effect teens in society today? There are many distractions that teens face today. Research has given the basic reasons why there is distracted driving like: peer pressure, technology, speeding, violating laws, and driving under the influence. In the year of 2011 distracted related crashes have claimed 3331 lives and injured 416,387 people nationwide. With this drastic number of lives being affected many states have put more laws on driving, especially for teens, because the amounts of distractions on the road that are increasing every year. They also have made more social marketing ways to show teens how to prevent distracted driving and results distracted driving can cause. From this, teens will get a better understanding of the dangers they can cause by not being careful on the road. If teens are shown examples of another individuals tragedy because of distracted driving they themselves will take more caution. Teenagers need to understand that an automobile can easily turn into a weapon if the driver is not take all responsibly to give their undivided attention to the road they are traveling on. They need better guidance from adults on their lives as well. They should learn from example and not be the example. There are three main types of distractions while driving. They are: visual, manual, and cognitive. A visual distraction is “when a driver takes their eyes of the road.” An example of that is a text, outside activity, or even a passenger. A manual distraction is “when a driver takes their hands off the steering wheel.” Many young teens have been caught driving with one hand because they have occupied it with food or their cell phone. A cognitive distraction is “when drivers take their mind off the task of driving.” (Adeola 146) This is usually when they get a phone call or text or when engaging in a conversation with a passenger. When all three types of distractions are combined, the crash rate drastically increases. Teenagers need to get an understanding and see a visually of what happens when these three types of distraction are influencing a young driver. One of the biggest reasons for teens being distracted today is a passenger and peer pressure. In Connecticut, the laws for teens and passengers are that you cannot have one unless they have had their license for 4 years or more for the first six months. After that you are allowed to have immediate family in the car. After a year, anyone is allowed in the car. They made this law so then teens 16-18 can get used to being the behind the wheel without a lot of distractions. Most teens do not follow this rule though. Many are because of the peer pressure by others. They might think that it is cool to break the law and do not think of the consequences. If getting caught by an officer with a passenger in your car before the time required has expired, you can get penalties from 90 days to a year suspension. This is why new teen drivers are allowed to have an adult in the car because they are less of a distracted. The adult has no desire for risky behavior and will only encourage safe driving habits. In the article, Peer Passengers: How Do They Effect Teen Crashes? presents studies that have shown, “Passengers may affect male teen driver crashes through both distraction and risk-promoting pathways, and female involvement primarily through internal distraction” (Curry 588). For both genders, they also saw that whenever with a passenger they are more likely to go over the speed limit and perform illegal maneuvers. Peer passengers increase crash rates because adolescents interact with and are influenced by one another. Most teens are wary of expressing their discomforts, for fear of seeming uncool. With peers in a vehicle together they are influencing the driver to engage in risky driving habits. The driver doesn’t want to be caught driving like a “mom” so they seek ways to seem cool. “Crashed involving teens carrying passengers were more likely to travel at unsafe speeds compared with those driving alone or with passengers of older ages” (589). Speeding is main risk teens are engaging in and they are not aware that “…speed reduces the amount of time available to react to events and increases stopping distances” (Simons 588). As teenager adolescents are looking for approval from their peers and if speeding gets them that approval they are willing to take the risk. Risky driving is a result in social influence among peers because without that one friend that is against the risky behavior teens will go to any extreme. “Adolescents may be particularly susceptible to peer influence, which can include overt pressure and subtle influence on social norms that encourage or discourage risky behavior which adolescents behave in ways they perceive to be acceptable and expected by their close friends and peer group” (588). Teenagers need to think about surrounding themselves with peer that have good intentions and are willing to not worry about the taking life threating risks behind the wheel of a car. From personal experience I can use myself as an example of a teenager seeking for the “cool kid” title while behind the wheel of my first car. At the age of 17 years old and a junior in high school my mother had just bought me a silver Toyota Camry. No more than two weeks of having my car I was already breaking the law of the road. One afternoon after school I packed my car with all my friends in the car and headed to get a bite to eat. Music blasting all my friends talking and all I could think about is getting to McDonalds as fast as possible. Having my friends in the car made everything even harder to pay full attention to the road. And then it all happened when I went to reach to change the station on the radio because my friends were complaining on my music section I swerved into on coming traffic and a truck hit my car head on. My car was totaled and my friends and I were all rushed to the hospital. That maybe three seconds of taking my eyes off the road and one hand off the wheel cause my friends and I a lot of pain. I have seen first hand what distracted driving can result in and ever since that day my friends and I set an example for other teens around us. Being in the hospital for weeks really showed me how important it is to pay full attention to the road. Being cool was not and will not ever be worth the suffering my friends and I went through after that accident. But it shouldn’t take a teenager personal experience to realize the risk. Teenagers need to learn from example and by seeing and hearing about other teens tragic experience adolescents need to wise up and make better choices for themselves and other individuals on the road around them. I was the example my peers learned from in my high school time. Another big reasons for teens being distracted today is technology and the effects it has with all three distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. Technology is a very important topic for distracted driving because more crashes have been happening by being distracted by phone calls and texting. Reasons why it effects all three because you have to take your eyes off the road, take your hand off the steering wheel, and take your focus off the road to respond to a text. “When sending or receiving a text message, a driver diverts his or her eyes from the road for approximately 4 to 6 seconds, which is equivalent to blindly driving the length of a football field at 55mph” (Adeola 147). With the dramatic rise in texting volume over the years studies have shown an alarming rise in distracted driving fatalities. Although most teens can agree that texting while driving is hazardous studies show that 52% of teen 18 years of age and less have reported texting while driving regularly. Seventy percent of teens opening text while driving, 81% reported replying to texts and 92% of teens informed the analyst they read texts while driving. Only a small 2% of teens reported never texting and driving (147). Also, a driver who texts are 23 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers. A teen’s sense of invincibility encourages them to take the risk of texting without thinking about the consequences. Studies from 2005-2008 showed a, “Fatalities related to distracted driving increased 28.4%... rising to 5870 (deaths) in 2008.” And from 2002 to 2007 crashes had increased 75.6% by texting and driving. (Wilson 2214) Since technology is becoming such a risk factor in today’s society and the concern furthered, 33 states banned cell phone use by new drivers and 19 states banned cell phone use by school bus drivers when students or faculty is present (147). Teens need to understand the risk they are putting themselves into every time they pick their phones up. Realizing how dangerous it is to answer a call or text will dramatically decrease the amount of fatalities that happen each year. The effectiveness of these laws seems unclear because think about it not everyone is getting caught and people have the mindset that if they haven’t got caught up till now they will never get caught so why bother stop texting. Officers of the law need to really start cracking down on texting and driving to show people they mean business. With 75% of teenagers the age of 12 to 17 having cell phones there is no stopping their texting unless the law is truly going to enforce the laws set in place. Substance abuse can also be a factor of distracted driving because motor skills can be impaired when under the influence. Drunk driving has caused many crashes for a long period of time. Researchers have found that it is usually by under-aged teens especially when with peer passengers. Also, they have found that it is usually performed by male teens. This is because many males do not see the effects of risky driving until they are apart of it. If under the age of 21, they are legally intoxicated at a .02 BAC or higher; that is equivalent to one shot of vodka. Teens are more likely to be impaired at the wheel after substance abuse than an adult because their brain functions have not fully developed. Also, because of more use in technology, the amount of fatalities while being under the influence has increased by 26%. (Wilson 2218) This is because drunk driving impairs eyesight, motor skills, and the speed to respond. Drunk driving is a risk at all ages, but for teens it is a big cause in crashes because teens already perform many risk-taking skills when on the road and by impairing it with substance abuse makes it worse. Drinking and driving is way for being distracted from full ability to operate a vehicle. With motor vehicle accidents being a leading cause of deaths among youth because of their lack of driving experience and relatively seeking for risk taking teenagers need a reality check. In a teens life parents have a major affect on how a teen acts and the values they grow into. Parents should be promoting and encouraging good driving habits to teens everyday. Teenagers learn how to drive from their parents and from day one parents need to only instill good driving habit into their children and also be that good example. Parents can’t expect teenagers to respect them if they are also promoting bad habits. Teenagers are quick to point out their parent’s flaws but if parents don’t give teenagers a reason to then they have no excuse. “Although parents are in a prime position to influence their teens’ driving behaviors, research indicates that many parents are less involved with their teens driving than they could be” (Simons ii25). There are many programs parents can enroll in so they can be the best influence on their children driving conditions. For a teenager everything starts with good parenting and without that essential connection between parents and child driving habit can be picked up from other risky teenager and parents don’t want that. Parents need to take advantage of programs around them for example the Checkpoint Programs. These programs send out guide for parents to enforce good driving rules for their adolescents. Checkpoints delivery of messages that “…tailor and time to correspond to teen’s driving experience and focus on single tool to organize parental management for the facilitate use of parent-teen driving agreements” (ii29). This provided parents with information on how to set limits to teens driving that will reduce their risk of crashing. Families exposed to the programs set stricter driving limitations for their children rather than a family that was exposes to the risk driving is putting their youth into. For example although for some states curfew for teenagers was 11:30pm parents that were exposed to the Checkpoint Program with enforce rules that teens should be at a 10:30pm curfew. Early curfews would avoid teens rushing home at the same time as other teens putting them at a less risk off accidents. Parents are in control of teenagers consequences and rule and without good set in stone rules teens will be a higher risk of picking up bad habits from their peers if parents taking the interest they need to in their children driving. Teaching youth good driving habits in the foundation to their driving habit that will carry into their adult lives. Parents take the interest and time and invest because it can save their child life in the long run. Learning starts in the home and parents need to set rules and guidelines for teens so they cant have a free ran to do whatever they feel like. Another way to show teens how danger distracted driving could be is using shock trauma. For example Maryland the CIPP and Trauma Prevention Nursing Council teamed together to address teens how to prevent distracted driving. Distracted driving is a public safety issue and teens need to act accordingly to avoid all distraction as possible. Schools that choose to participate in these program provided by the team have reached 16,862 teens in 61 educational programs as of 2012 (Adeola 148). Through these program students learn about the three types of distractions. Students then watch videos of students that choose to drive distracted and how bad the outcome can be. “In the video, a 17-years-ol driver, “Kate,” was driving her friends to a party. While driving, ate received a text message, averting her eyes from the road, causing her to crash her minivan into a fence. Kate’s lost concentration and distracted driving resulted in her death, while her passengers managed to escape the crash but suffering from several injuries. The horrific accident scene displayed on the video exposes the young drivers to the potential trauma caused by distracted driving, hopefully causing viewers to realize through the powerful message and the relatable circumstances, that this scenario can happen to anyone” (Adeola 148). Showing teen these types of images can cause them to see the trauma it cause another teens life and not want put their parents, siblings an friends through the pain of losing them over one text message. The team then engages student in an open discussion on how to avoid getting into a situation like “Kate”. Programs like this can really open the eyes on head strung teens to see the real danger they are putting themselves and other into. Adolescence of our time should take responsibility for their actions and learn to obey the laws of the road. Laws are made for a reason and teens need to respect that with parents on board giving students a good support system to not let peer pressure effect them adolescence will not feel as obligated to engage in risky behavior. Additional to good parenting teen’s school should always consider these CIPP program to open the eyes of our young adults. When parents and school team together to show teenager the important of why not to drive distracted is a big no.

Work cited
Adeola, Ruth, and Mallory Gibbons. "Get the Message: Distracted Driving and Teens." 20.3 (2013): 146-49. Print.
Curry, Allison. "Peer Passangers: How Do They Affect Teen Crashes?" Journal of Adolescent Health (2011): 588-94. Print.
Simmons-Morton, B G, and J L Hartos. "Promoting Parental Management of Teen Driving." (2002): Ii24-i31. Print.
Simons, Bruce. "The Effect of Passanger and Risk-Taking Friends on Risky Driving and Crashes/Near Crashes Among Novive Teenagers." Journal of Adolescent Health (2011): 587-93. Print.
Wilson, Fernado. "Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the United States." American Journal of Public Health 100.11 (2010): 2213-219. Print.

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