It is safe to say that most parents have a difficult time handing car keys over to their teen drivers. After all, driving is a huge responsibility, and there are a lot of dangers involved. Unfortunately, today’s teen drivers face temptations that teen drivers of past decades didn’t have–namely, they are driving with a major distraction right at their fingertips: the cell phone. Although there are laws enacted to separated teens from their cell phones while driving, those laws apparently aren’t stopping teens. Read on to learn more:
The Alarming Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association just released a report on drivers and cell phone use, and the statistics are alarming. At any given time, there are over 660,000 drivers on the road who are using their cell phones; this means they are either answering a call, making a call, or engaged in a conversation. Young drivers (those identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association as being 20 or younger) are the most likely to use their cell phones while driving.
There are laws regarding cell phone use while driving to protect those on the road. These laws, often referred to as distracted driving laws, generally center on hand held cell phone use, and may vary slightly from state to state (covering things like texting and/or conversing, for example). However, the one thing they all have in common is that teens seem to be regularly disregarding them. A recently study showed that the number of teens who use their cell phones while driving actually doubled between 2010 and now.
A Dangerous Risk
Distracting driving laws are aptly titled because of the simple fact that cell phone use while driving is a distraction. Teens (or young drivers) are the most likely to take this dangerous risk. There were over 3,330 fatalities from automobile crashes caused by distracted driving in 2011, and increase from 2010’s numbers. A good 12 percent of those fatal crashes involved cell phone use, specifically, and out of that 12 percent, over half of those involved were young drivers.
What Can Be Done?
It seems obvious that distracting driving laws are doing little to prevent teens from using their cell phones while driving. They’re too distracted by their ability to unlock cellphones, text, talk, and even play games. This has many lawmakers scrambling for new, stricter laws, and the public pushing for a stricter enforcement of existing laws. However, it is impossible to say if teens, who lack the life experience necessary to understand the gravity of the risk they are taking when they drive distractedly, will respond to the laws.
Unfortunately, it appears that we are at an impasse when it comes to keeping young drivers from using their cell phones while driving. Will stricter laws help keep people safe on the road? Only if they are strictly enforced, and that is a tall order, considering the number of distracted drivers there are on the road today.
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