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Biggest teen driving distractions and why it matters

A teenager getting his or her driver’s license could still constitute a rite of passage in many New York households. The ability to get around independently is a big step toward adulthood. Teens may be excited, and parents may be reticent, but no matter what, a new driver is on the roadways.

Teen drivers present two major dangers to you as you share the road with them. The first is inexperience behind the wheel. It takes years to be truly comfortable behind the wheel. At this point, a new driver only has the mechanics of driving down, but not the instincts and experience that only time will provide. The second is distraction, and this article explores distractions as they pertain to teens.

What is distracting teens as they drive?

Even if a teen is as careful as possible in the first few months of driving, that may not last, and he or she still lacks experience. After the initial period of the jitters, teens may relax to the point where they allow distractions to take their attention off the road. Research shows that the distractions below plague teens most often:

  • Would it surprise you to know that the biggest distraction to teen drivers is not texting and driving? Approximately 62% of the time, the top distraction for teens is that they allow their minds to wander away from the task at hand.

  • The next closest distraction is texting or using social media, which accounts for around 14%. This number is still too high, but it appears that anti-texting campaigns may be having some effect.

  • Around 5% of the time, the passengers in the vehicle with the teen cause a significant distraction. It makes sense since, prior to being the one behind the wheel, teens could pay attention to others in the vehicle without the consequences it could have now.

  • Music serves as a distraction to around 2% of teens.

  • The remainder of the time, factors other than these contribute to a teen driver becoming distracted.

Teens may know subjectively that driving is an immense responsibility. However, once they master the mechanics and get comfortable, they tend to forget that they are essentially driving a deadly weapon. Even looking around at objects outside the vehicle takes precious seconds that teens need in order to have the time to react to an emergency.

You may be just as susceptible to distractions as a teen, but your experience and instincts give you an edge that teens don’t yet have. You may have a better chance of avoiding an accident. As an experienced driver, you know that the landscape around your vehicle can change in the blink of an eye, and you tend to get a sense for it. If a teen driver does not do the same, you could pay the price and suffer serious injuries.

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