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Distracted Teen Drivers Are a Threat to Public Safety

Update Date: Apr 17, 2014 01:46 PM EDT

New drivers, particularly teenagers, should always stay focused on the road with a clear mind. However, even though teens are constantly reminded about the dangers of driving, some of them continue to drive recklessly. According to a new study, researchers found that distracted driving among teens pose a huge threat for public safety, which is why measures must be taken to reduce the number of teens who drive with distractions.

"Although public health efforts have made some progress in reducing risk of adolescent motor vehicle crashes over the last three decades, new technologies and evolving behavior patterns have focused attention on the risk of distracted driving," Guest Editor C. Raymond Bingham, PhD, from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Ann Arbor, MI, said. "For many of the same reasons that alcohol-impaired driving represents a distinct risk for adolescents, distracted driving has an elevated impact on this age group. The unique challenge posed by the proliferation of new technological distractions may accelerate this risk behavior and may lend itself to innovative prevention efforts."

According to the background information provided in the study, car accidents are the leading cause of deaths in teenagers. The researchers examined one of the many causes of car accidents, distracted driving. They found that in 2008, 16 percent of all car-related deaths due to distractions were in drivers younger than 20-years-old. In order to increase safety and reduce death rates, the researchers offered practical recommendations in their article.

The researchers examined the relationship between different developmental stages throughout a teen's life and the teen's level of distractibility in relation to driving. If the researchers could identify when a teen is most vulnerable to distractions, they can find ways of preventing teens from getting behind a wheel. Furthermore, this kind of research can also help researchers create new programs to teach teens about such distractions and how to mend them before driving.

"This special Journal of Adolescent Health supplement brings the important issue of driver distraction and young drivers into focus. The articles presented cover a variety of the influences on young drivers' distractibility and safety as well as the important influence of parents, peers, and technology," the former United States Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, stated in the press release. "While there is no single (simple or quick) solution to this problem, this research can lay a substantive foundation for additional debate and informed and effective policies to address the complex problem of distracted driving among young drivers and the larger driving population as a whole."

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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