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Distracted driving: a growing danger for teenagers all over

July 15, 2012 6:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Lillian Sanders is a recent graduate from Northern Arizona University. She enjoys writing about community issues and strives to put an end to distracted driving.

It’s long been a goal to raise awareness with teenagers of dangerous habits such as underage drinking, drug use, and impaired driving, amongst other issues, but an unexpected risk is growing exponentially for our youth. Distracted driving has been around for decades, but the rise in technology, especially with teenagers and youth, has made distracted driving one of the important issues in recent years.

For teens, the reliance on technology has grown stronger and stronger in recent years. As smart phones, tablets, and other devices have made their way into everyday use patterns, attention spans have seemingly gone in the other direction. When it comes to driving, the focus on these products has had a staggering effect.

In 2010, over 3000 people were killed in car crashes that involved a distracted driver. Another 416,000 injuries took place in accidents tied to distracted driving as well. While these injuries and deaths account for total numbers, teens and young drivers represent a large portion. Recently it was revealed in an AT&T survey that showed nearly 50 percent of teens could be texting and driving, even though it’s likely that close to 90 percent of them believe it to be dangerous.

Aside from just the technology aspect, distracted driving can be tied to another major issue for youths, which is peer pressure. In some situations, teens who are riding in the car with other teens are truly forced to concentrate even more so than usual, as conversation and technology use can tie together to provide major distraction.

Lawmakers have been working frivolously in many states to enact bans tied to text messaging and talking on the phone during driving, which is a positive sign. Currently, there are 31 states that ban the use of cell phones for all novice drivers, 43 states have a ban against text messaging for young drivers.

While these laws and attention on distracted driving is important, the issue continues to grow and awareness is key. Just like other teen issues such as drug use, alcohol abuse and other influences must be talked about, building attention and debate with teenagers will continue to be the goal in decreasing cases of distracted driving into the future.