Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens, Cell Phones, Driving, Texting Talking - All Can Lead to Deadly Results

I don't think we can hear enough about cell phones and driving.  Whether it is teens or adults, texting, talking on the  phone, and driving can lead to deadly results.  No text is worth dying over!  No phone call is worth losing  a loved one over!

More Teens Dial and Drive

Source: Connect with Kids

“I was like, 'oh my God, I'm gonna die.'
So I sat back up and the phone stopped ringing. It could have been bad.”

– Katie, Age 17

Seventeen-year old Katie once had a close call. Her cell phone rang and she leaned down to answer it.

"It was rolling all over the place," Katie says, "and I heard all this honking and stuff and I was like 'what's going on?' So I sat back up and I was (very close) to the median."

Katie learned her lesson. She now uses a hands-free device.

Still, many other teen drivers are willing to take their chances despite the potential danger of using a cell phone while driving. "I know it is (dangerous) but I think I'm a pretty good driver," says 17-year-old A'sari. "I can handle doing two things at once."

A survey by the Allstate Foundation reports that more girls admit to texting while driving, speeding, and driving aggressively... compared to boys. All of which increases the chances that a girl will get hurt... hurt someone else... or both.

Experts say parents should teach their kids responsible driving. "We need to impress upon them their safety is of importance to us," says Robert Wilson, with the National Safety Council. "Any rules or regulations imposed by their parents or law enforcement is not to punish them but to help them survive their teenage years and become young adults."

Wilson says cell phones aren't the only distraction. Music, food and even other passengers can divert a young driver's attention. He says parents should urge their kids to focus on what is really important behind the wheel. "If a situation does require you to take your eyes off the road, pull over, save those few seconds. It might save your life."

Cell Phone Risks

Several towns, cities and states have already restricted the use of handheld cellular phones while driving. The laws are in response to the growing number of cell phones owned by Americans and a widely held belief that dialing and texting while driving can be dangerous. (Several nations also restrict cell phone use while driving: Australia, Japan, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.) Not much research has been conducted into the risks of driving and cell phone use, but one study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (commissioned by A T & T Wireless Communications), reached the following conclusions:

■Cellular phone use while driving poses a risk to the driver, to other motorists, and to pedestrians.
■The risks appear to be small compared to other daily risks but are uncertain because existing research is limited and uneven in quality.

Cell phone driving statistics:

■Distraction from cell phone use while driving (hand held or hands free) extends a driver's reaction as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (University of Utah)
■The No.1 source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device. (Virginia Tech/NHTSA)
■Drivers that use cell phones are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (NHTSA, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
■10 percent of drivers aged 16 to 24 years old are on their phone at any one time.
■Driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of police reported crashes.
■Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (Carnegie Mellon University)

Tips for Parents
In light of the risks of cell phone use while driving, parents may want to consider placing their own restrictions on 'dialing and driving' and especially "texting and driving." In addition to limiting cell phone use in cars, there are other things parents can do to help keep teen drivers safe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends the following:

■Restrict nighttime driving. The majority of fatal accidents involving teenagers occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight.
■Restrict passengers. Teen passengers in a vehicle can easily distract a beginning driver. 62% of teen passenger deaths occur in crashes with a teen driver. While night driving with passengers is particularly lethal, many fatal crashes with teen passengers occur during the day. The best policy is to restrict teen passengers, especially multiple teens, all the time.
■Supervise practice driving. Take an active role in helping your teenager learn how to drive.
■Remember you are a role model. New drivers learn a lot by example, so practice safe driving yourself.
■Require safety belt use. Remember that belt use is lower among teenagers than older people. Insist on belts at all times.
■Prohibit driving after drinking. Make it clear that it's illegal and highly dangerous for a teenager to drive after drinking. Even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teens.
■Choose vehicles for safety, not image. Teenagers should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of a crash and offer protection if they do crash. Avoid trucks and sport utility vehicles—the smaller ones, especially, are prone to roll over.

■Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
■Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
■Wireless World Forum