Statistics can tell a story, but seeing is believing. Anytime you drive down the street, whether you’re going to work or to buy a loaf of bread, you’re likely to see at least one driver looking down at their smartphone instead of looking ahead at the road. There are new laws every year, but the problem remains.
A new AAA study looks at the behavior of teen drivers specifically. Its findings aren’t startling considering how many drivers are visibly using their phones, but it reinforces that laws aren’t solving the bigger problem.
What does the new study say?
Summarizing AAA’s findings, it found that state laws banning texting don’t effectively reduce the problem. State laws against talking on a handheld phone do reduce phone call distraction, but similar laws that specifically address texting don’t have the same effect. While handheld phone call use drops notably in states where it’s illegal, texting use has only slightly decreased under similar rules.
In states to ban texting while driving, 35 percent of teens still text, as compared to 42 percent in states where it is not banned. It’s a marginal improvement, but more than one-in-three teens still admit to the dangerous behavior even where it is illegal.
Hands-free doesn’t mean distraction-free
There are many forms of distracted driving. While the reduction is phone calls is positive, teens send far more texts than they make phone calls. Hands-free devices may keep eyes on the road, but they’re still a distraction. The simple truth is that drivers of all ages need to focus energy and attention on the road and delay phone calls, messaging, eating, applying make-up and other distractions for the appropriate time when they aren’t in the car.
A deep-rooted danger
The survey reinforces that distracted driving is a serious problem, not just for teens, but all age groups. People learn from the actions of others. When you see everyone else texting on the road, it normalizes the behavior regardless of what’s in the law. Three recommendations to take away from the survey:
- Have a zero tolerance policy for phone use while driving
- Talk to teenagers regularly about the problem
- Lead by example
One bad decision may cause a crash
Driving may feel like a safe, routine thing to do. While most errands are event-free, a single misjudgment can have life-long consequences. Drivers are responsible for their actions. If you’ve been in an accident with a distracted driver, they are liable for damages such as auto repair, medical bills and more.