The 5 Most Common Distractions of Teen Drivers
AAA recently released the findings of a study they conducted regarding the distractions encountered by teen drivers. The purpose of the study was to discover what preventable environmental events pulled a teen’s attention from the road. Using videos, audio clips and other data, they amassed a list of distractions encountered during real-life driving adventures.
Because this list is based on actual events, it gives us priceless data that can help us determine which topics are most important to discuss with our teens and how to teach them to be better, less distracted, drivers. Here are the five top distractions AAA researches observed.
In almost 7% of the clips AAA researchers studied, electronic devices such as cell phones were present and distracting, and female teen drivers seem especially prone to being distracted by them. Not only is it important to talk to your teen about the dangers of using a cell phone or texting while driving, but it is also important to have a system of preventative measures in place that stops them from engaging in this behavior while behind the wheel. This can include downloading apps that auto respond to text messages while your teen is driving so they feel less compelled to answer texts themselves, monitoring cell phone usage so that you can identify periods when calls were made or received while driving, and having consequences for utilizing electronic devices while driving. But it’s not just about having consequences in place—it’s also about enforcing them.
Distraction due to adjusting dashboard controls was present in 6.2% of the data collected by AAA. Changing the radio station, raising the volume of the stereo, changing CDs, skipping tracks, and even operating some of the dashboard utilities such as directionals and windshield wipers can easily pull your teen driver’s eyes away from the road ahead. Make sure your teen understands that they must be comfortable with all dashboard controls before they begin driving and that the only appropriate time to play with the radio and CD player is when they are at a complete stop or when they are able to do so without looking at the controls. It only takes a few seconds to get into a car accident—make sure they understand that changing the radio station provides just enough distraction for that.
Attending to personal hygiene:
3.8% of the data collected by AAA showed teen drivers distracted by personal hygiene behaviors. Make sure your team understands the consequences of removing his or her eyes from the road for the three seconds it takes to put their misplaced hair back in place. Let your teen know that brushing their teeth, shaving, combing their hair and applying makeup are all behaviors that should be done before they get in the car or after they reach their destination.
Eating or drinking:
In 2.8% of the clips analyzed, a teen was distracted by either eating or drinking and sometimes both. It’s hard enough for a teen driver to learn how to interpret and react to all the information presented when they are driving—adding eating and drinking to the menu seems simple, but can result in way too much distraction and should be discouraged while they are behind the wheel.
If they must eat breakfast after leaving for school, give them something easily portable that they can munch on after they've parked the car and are walking to their first class.
Reaching for another object.
In 2.5% of the clips observed, teen drivers were distracted as they reached for another object found inside the vehicle. Remind your teen that while driving, paying attention to the road is the most important task they have to complete. Should they need to reach for an object that is not right next to them while driving, it's a good idea to pull over and stop the car or to ask a passenger to get it.
By minimizing the distractions your teen faces while driving, you’ll not only keep them safer but also keep their insurance premiums lower. To discuss more safe driving tips for you and your teen, or to talk about Houston auto insurance rates and limits that are perfect for teen drivers, give us a call at 713-227-7283.