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Distracted Teens

Teen drivers are dangerous due to many factors. Inexperience, risky behavior and being easily distracted are just a few reasons they are involved in four times more accidents than adult drivers. While texting and phone calls are a big distraction, there are other dangers. Recent reports have shown that teen passengers are just as dangerous to your teen driver. Here is a quick rundown of what is distracting teens when they are behind the wheel

Teen Passengers
Peer passengers are a dangerous distraction.

A 2006 study found that the odds of an accident resulting in death doubled when a teen passenger was in the car, when a second passenger was added a fatal accident is 5 times more likely.

A more recent study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and a major insurance company found that teens driving with teen passengers are much more likely to be distracted prior to a crash than teen drivers who are alone in the car.

Dr. Allison E. Curry, Ph.D., MPH, director of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Core at the Center said in a press release, “Both male and female teen drivers with peer passengers were more likely to be distracted just before a crash as compared to teens who crashed while driving alone, among the teens who said they were distracted by something inside the vehicle before they crashed, 71 percent of males and 47 percent of females said they were distracted directly by the actions of their passengers.”

There is a Difference Between Boys and Girls
When it comes to teens, boys are always more expensive to insure than girls. Boys drive faster and are more aggressive, but it turns out that girls are more easily distracted.

The study at CHOP found that carrying teen passengers has different affects on boys and girls. While girls almost never drive aggressively, they tend to be distracted by cell phones and texting as well as glancing at the passengers. Boys on the other hand crashed because of reckless driving and speeding. Boys with passengers drove aggressive at twice the rate of boys driving alone.

Electronic Distractions
Girls tend to be more distracted by electronics than boys. In its State of Teen Driving Report, The Allstate Foundation reported that 51 percent of girls frequently read and write texts while only 38 percent of boys were texting. Girls also like their MP3 players with 84 percent admitting to flipping through songs while driving compared to 69 percent for boys.

Teens know better. A SADD study found that almost 60 percent of teens believe that texting is a significant and dangerous distraction while driving yet 53 percent of high school kids admitted they were texting and driving. An astounding 10% are sending over 50 texts a day when they are behind the wheel.

These distractions lead not only to deadly crashes but a huge number of near misses. A study by a major insurance company found that 68 percent of teen drivers had recently avoided an accident. The study also found that these near misses have little impact on teen behavior. The only thing that resulted in a permanent change in their driving habits was if a teen was actually involved in a crash.

Get Involved
Parents need to stay involved when it comes to their teen driver. It’s important to remember that the parents are the main role models when it comes to their teen drivers. Experts recommend that teens follow the Graduate Driver Licensing (GDL) laws in their state. Almost every state in the nation has a GDL program and having a full understanding of the law is important for all parents.

Experts also recommend using a driving contract and installing phone locks on your teen’s smartphone that will block incoming calls and texts when the vehicle is moving.

Teen drivers are dangerously inexperienced and easily distracted. Being aware of these issues is the first step to making sure your teen gets through the first few years of driving alive.