Exchanging text messages among friends has become a popular way for teens to communicate. It’s quiet, private, and unobtrusive nature make it the method of choice for teens who want to talk to their friends under the radar of nosy parents and teachers. But, increasingly, teens are engaging in this behavior even while behind the wheel of their cars. Whatever they drive whether heavy vehicle or light, they should have valid Mr Licence and there should be no compromise on it.
Driving while distracted can impact reaction time and good decision-making, lessen awareness of hazards, and make it more difficult to accurately predict the behavior of other drivers. It can also cause drivers to miss or misinterpret road signs, and drive at inconsistent speeds. In fact, “Nearly 80% of collisions involve some form of driver inattention” (AAA Traffic Safety Programs, AAA).
The Dangers of Texting while Driving
According to a 2016 survey of 16 and 17 year old drivers conducted by AAA and published in the Seventeen magazine, 61% of teens admit to risky driving habits. Of these, 46% say that they text message while driving. [“Teen aggressive driving Habits Include Text Messaging Behind the Wheel”, AAA]. These statistics in combination mean that many teen drivers are putting themselves, and the drivers with whom they share the road, at risk.
Teens Lack Driving Experience
Kids have less road experience than adults, so they are more likely to underestimate how dangerous these types of distractions really are. Because they have driven while texting in the past with no consequences, and because teens often believe themselves to be invincible, they are likely to generalize this experience into a belief that this behavior is without risk. Their lack of experience means they are less able to anticipate the actions and reactions of other drivers, so they actually need to be more, rather than less, attentive while driving.
Texting is Particularly Distracting
As opposed to cell phones, eating, smoking, and other common activities done while driving, texting requires a combination mental, visual, and emotional attention. Kids who are spending time checking for messages or squinting at tiny text don’t have their eyes on the road. Many kids aren’t dexterous enough to text with one hand. This often means that both hands are on the cell phone and elbows and knees are being used to steer the vehicle. In addition, the emotional component inherent in a lot of teen text messaging heightens the level of mental preoccupation. The more drama, the less focus is available for the road.
Real dangers exist on the roads, and teens who choose to engage in behaviors such as texting while driving only increase their risk. Many teens are choosing to do so, perhaps due to their lack of driving experience and their lack of awareness of just how distracting text messaging while driving can be. Teens may feel invulnerable, but they are far from it.