(This blog is written to inform parents & others of disturbing trends of teenagers.)RISKS OF DWT:
Extensive research tells us that teen drivers are less likely to buckle up and more likely to speed and drive too fast in dangerous conditions. What is even more scary is that 56% of teens admit to texting while driving. This dangerous behavior has been termed Driving While Text - DWT.So you may be wondering: DUI...DWT - which is more dangerous?
Driving under the influence of alcohol is more likely to result in a serious accident, but texting while driving is done more frequent among teens making an accident more likely to happen.
*"As opposed to cell phones, eating, smoking, and other activities done while driving, texting requires a combination of mental, visual, and emotional attention."
Because texting takes the driver's attention away from the road, researchers believe texting and driving is far more dangerous than drinking and driving.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15 to 20 years old.
Almost 50% of teens admit to texting while driving, and even though 37% of teenagers believe texting while driving is distracting, they continue to send and receive text messages while behind the wheel.
Experts state that driving while texting is the same as driving with a .08 blood alcohol level (about 5 beers).
Accidents caused by distracted drivers increased to over one million in 2009.
- Teens can type a text message and send it without looking at their cell phones. This ease in texting may create a false sense of security while driving.
- Teens usually text underneath the steering wheel while steering the vehicle with their knee, often while driving at excessive speeds.
- Focusing on a cell phone even for a split second is long enough to cause an accident.
- Teens can be impulsive, and they are less likely to delay responding to a text they receive, even while driving. Teens report various reasons for texting while driving, including the need to let their friends and parents know where they are and what they are doing, getting directions, and chatting with girlfriend/boyfriend.
- Teens are often influenced by peer pressure, which can lead to riskier behavior.
- Teens believe they are invincible and think "it won't happen to me".
- Teens have had less time behind the wheel, so their response time is often slower, and they have more trouble recognizing dangerous conditions.
Public service announcements, ads, and videos have been used to show the dangers of driving and texting. One very controversial public announcement video produced in the UK shows exactly what can happen when a teen texts while driving.
(This video is graphic.)
Even though this video is very graphic, I believe it should be shown to all teen drivers, so they can see the reality of what can happen if you text while driving.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
- According to a study performed by SADD/Liberty Mutual, the biggest influence on how teens drive is their parents. Almost two-thirds of teens say their parents talk on a cell phone while driving, one-half say their parents speed, and almost one-third say their parents don't wear a seatbelt.
- Parents need to set a good example starting before their teen begins to drive.
- Let your teen know that driving is a privilege that will be taken away if they break any driving rules you set. (According to the SADD/Liberty Mutual study, 52% of teens say their parents are unlikely to follow through on punishment if they drive and text, so they continue this dangerous activity.)
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of texting and other distractions, and make your expectations known.