We recently posted a blog about paying attention to in-vehicle distractions when driving. The number one riskiest distraction according to a new study was speech-to-text systems that allow drivers to send texts and emails by speaking. Now California could put a new law in effect to ban teens from voice-texting while driving.
Teens cannot use cell phones while driving under California law. A new state legislation, if it gets Governor Jerry Brown’s approval, would ban those younger than 18 from using voice-operated, hands-free texting programs while driving. According to an Eyewitness news report, teens are already banned from using cell phones from driving, even with hands-free devices. This new law will take that a step further, stopping teens from even using a talk-to-text device.
Distracted Driving Crashes
According to the article, of the drivers 15 to 19 years of age who are involved in fatal car accidents, 21 percent were distracted by a cell phone. In 2009, there were more than 26,000 car accidents that were in part caused by distracted drivers. In California, during that year, 116 fatalities and 17,000 injuries were caused by distracted drivers. The measure banning talk-to-text devices passed the state Senate in April. It now awaits the governor’s signature.
Preventing Teen Distracted Driving
Teenagers’ inexperience behind the wheel makes them more susceptible to distractions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in three teens who text say he or she has done so while driving. Dialing a phone while driving increases a driver’s risk of crashing by six times and texting while driving increases that risk by 23 times, according to studies. Talking or texting while driving takes teenagers’ focus away from the task of driving, slows down their reaction time – similar to that of a 70-year-old who is not using a phone!
Here are a few steps you can take as a parent to help prevent teen distracted driving:
• Having conversations: Talk to your teen about the rules and responsibilities that go along with the privilege of driving. Share stories, anecdotes and statistics related to teen drivers and distracted driving. Remind your teen that no text or phone call is worth his or her life or the life of anyone else that could be affected as a result of the driver’s actions.
• Become familiar with the graduated licensing program (GDL): These programs phase in young drivers instead of putting them on the roadway without any experience. Enforce your own rules as well. Restrict the number of passengers your teen can have or the hours he or she can drive. Talk about consequences.
• Be a role model: Set an example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Practice what you preach because children learn from watching what their parents do.