Driver inattention is the number one contributing factor to traffic deaths and accidents. It’s the same for teenaged drivers, but the numbers are are much higher.
Studies indicate that when a teenager is texting while driving, their mentality drops to that of a seven year old. Sgt. Paul Reinsch with the Highway Patrol says he speaks as a trooper … and as a concerned parent.
He says vehicle crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths in the U.S. and that teens are 10 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average driver. He says teens do believe they’re invicible, but they’re also taking cues from someone else in the front seat.
Reinch says if it were not for parents, teens would be much better drivers. For 15 years teenagers sat in the back seat and watched their parents drive, many of them multi-tasking, speeding and running lights … all while driving a two-ton bullet. He reviews five facts he says he wants every parent to remember:
· Vehicle crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths in the U.S.
· Teens are 10 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than
the average driver.
· In 2008 — 5,864 teens (ages 16 to 20) died in America from vehicle
· 62 percent of teenage passenger death occurred in vehicles driven by a teen.
· On average, a teen is injured in a motor vehicle crash every 15
minutes in the U.S.
“Generally speaking, teens believe they are invincible, they succumb easily to peer pressure, and they are risk takers. Teens tend to think seat belts are not cool; therefore, they do not wear them. Teens are bad drivers due to their lack of experience,” he says.
For 15 years teenagers sat in the back seat and watched their parents drive, he says.
“They have watched mom and dad speed when they are late, accelerate when the traffic light changes from green to yellow, and roll through four-way stops as though they didn’t exist. Most people are not able to do two things at once, but as a society we attempt to do many things while driving a two-ton bullet. Our children have watched us multitask as we drive down the road–talking on our cell phone, eating, putting on make-up, shaving, reading, and text messaging.”
Studies suggest that when a teen is behind the wheel and is text messaging it lowers their mental ability to that of a seven-year-old.
“We not only have to worry about teen drivers approaching us on the road we have to be concerned about the “seven-year-old” driver,” he says, reminding parents and teen drivers that it’s against the law for those 21 and younger to text while driving.
“Parents must be involved in their teen’s life. Parents should ask questions and look for reasons to ride with them to observe their driving habits and skills. Be involved in their driving experience. Enroll them into driver’s education,” Reinsch says. “Be a good role model when you get behind the wheel. Instill in your teen the confidence to say no to their peers. Instill in yourself the confidence to say no to your teen. Know the graduated driver’s license law — your teen does. Wear your seat belt and your teen will, also. Limit the number of passengers in your teen’s vehicle. Last, make your teen understand this is not a video game they just shut off when they lose or make a mistake. This is real life and there are consequences for every decision made behind the wheel. Sometimes those consequences are deadly.”