When teenagers text and drive, it’s usually not because of pure ignorance of the risk. They know how dangerous it is. They just do it, anyway.
Researchers found that a full 94% of teens admitted that they knew texting behind the wheel put themselves and others in danger. At the same time, 35% admitted to doing it. The real percentage could be higher if some of those teens, even in an anonymous survey, did not tell the truth.
More than texting
To make matters worse, teens get distracted by more than texting. Here are some other potential distractions:
·Friends and passengers
·Other smartphone activities, like taking pictures or browsing social media
Smartphones are powerful, useful devices that give teenagers a lot of tools they could never have carried so easily before. The problem is that those tools offer distractions when driving. It’s great to have access to nearly unlimited music or a built-in GPS system, but not at the expense of an accident.
Part of the reason for the rise in distracted driving accidents is that smartphones have become so incredibly common. In 2019, it’s more surprising when a teenager does not have one than when they do. Many parents, despite wanting their teenage kids to drive safely, still go out of their way to buy them the phones that are their No. 1 distraction.
To help put an end to this, many parents focus on education. They talk to their children about the dangers and make sure they know that the family has a zero-tolerance policy for texting and driving – along with other distractions.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, have taken things into their own hands. Texting and driving is now illegal in Rhode Island. Authorities want people to simply put their phones away until they arrive at their destinations.
While things like education and legislation will not hurt, it is clear that they also do not prevent all of these incidents. If the vast majority of teens understand the risks, will more education change their thinking? If they already know that distractions put others in danger, will new laws actually make them keep their phones in their pockets?
It is clear that distracted driving is here to stay. It’s a problem we’ll face year in and year out, on roads in Rhode Island and across the country. If you get into an accident with a distracted driver, make sure you know if you have a right to financial compensation.