Keeping teen drivers safe from distraction

Driving presents a conundrum for most people in Macon. Experience is essential to developing the skills necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle on the streets and highways of Georgia, but in order to gain that experience, you must begin as an inexperienced, and typically, teen-aged driver. 

Moving a teen driver from inexperienced and overwhelmed to experienced and competent is a significant problem. Fatal car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, and yet for most Americans, giving your keys to your son or daughter and sending them out on their own, is an essential rite of passage.

In addition to their inexperience, teens today are faced with an unparalleled barrage of distraction while driving. And no device is more distracting than a smartphone, a device that insinuates itself in to our driving habits, making it seem as if no would be able to go anywhere without it

It is both a communication device, with phone, text and email capability. It is a computer, allowing you to Google all that important information that you must find, right now, and most function as a GPS, enabling you to know where your are and how to get where you want to go.

All of those features also make it terribly distracting. In Los Angeles, as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, a group of teen drivers where able to experience driving an obstacle course unimpeded by distraction and again with lots of distractions from loud passengers to attempts at texting.

One teen called the distracted portion, a "horrible experience." It made her aware of just how difficult it is to focus on driving when one is distracted.

Parents are essential to helping teen drivers, both by modeling good driving behavior and by assisting their teens in getting the experience they need. Teens need to learn that when they are in the car, the focus is on driving.

Source: Los Angeles Daily News, "Campaign shows teens costs of distracted driving," Barbara Jones, October 21, 2013

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