According to the SR22 Agency, distracted driving accidents increased last year. 424,000 people were injured, up from 421,000 the previous year. Distracted driving includes far more than texting at the wheel, which is still the most widespread and dangerous distraction. Other common distractions include:
- Any use of a mobile phone or smart phone, including, but not limited to: texting, calling, browsing the web, etc.;
- Drinking and eating at the wheel;
- Talking to the other people in the car;
- Personal grooming, like putting on makeup or brushing your hair at the wheel;
- Any use of non-essential technology, like using the GPS system, watching videos, fiddling with the controls on the radio/MP3 player/CD player, etc.
Despite the well publicized dangers of distracted driving, many people still have not gotten the message; a disproportionately high number of distracted drivers are young. The NHTSA says that 27% of all drivers who cause fatal accidents by driving distracted are under the age of 20.
The education curve on distracted driving seems to be much like the one on using seat belts a generation ago. Many people resisted them for a variety of reasons, including a young female friend of mine. I remember discussing the issue with her. She felt that if she died in a car accident there would be nothing to worry about. I pointed out to her that most accidents involve more than one car and that most accidents don’t include fatalities. I urged her to consider facial disfigurement as a larger risk. The next time I got in a car with her, she used her seat belt.
Perhaps we’re just talking to teens the wrong way. They may value looks more than life. They may see the possibility of a fatal injury as too remote given the seat belts, air bags and crumple zones built into cars these days. Scars may represent a far larger deterrent.
The SR 22 site contains a number of educational videos that you may want to have your teens watch.