Posted in on August 9, 2016

Deadly Distractions Facing Teen Drivers This Summer

Summertime is filled with picnics, barbecues, and family fun. It’s easy to be carefree when the kids are out of school and the days are longer and warmer, but there’s never a more important time to watch out for your driving teens. Despite what you may think, Colorado roads can be even more dangerous in the summer than in the winter. In the summertime, teens have more free time, drive more, and are more likely to be involved in car accidents. This time is known as the “100 deadliest days” for teens, according to AAA.

According to the CDC, auto accidents are the number one killer of teens in America, with six teens from the ages of 16 to 19 dying every day. Teens are almost three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than drivers aged 20 and over. Most of these statistics are due to teen drivers’ immaturity and lack of driving experience, but a large part of the problem is distracted driving.

Distracted driving comes in many forms, from driving with passengers to using cell phones. A 2014 study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that, while teens are often distracted by technology while driving, “loud conversations and horseplay” from passengers can cause an even bigger safety risk. Teens were six times more likely to be involved in a “serious incident” when there was loud conversation in the car and three times more likely when there was horseplay going on.

Teenage car accidents are also increased by cell phone and smartphone distractions. In a 2015 study, AAA found that 92 percent of teens from the ages of 15 to 17 owned cell phones, 76 percent of which were smartphones. Cell phones themselves can be distracting because of the capacity to talk and text while driving, but smartphone pose a whole different problem. Smartphones enable users to access the internet and many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.

A 2015 AT&T study showed that 40 percent of smartphone users access social media while driving and 30 percent access the internet. Ten percent of those surveyed admitted to driving while using Snapchat, a social media app that allows users to take and send disappearing photos and short videos.

Through the past few years, Snapchat has developed updates, featuring filters and capacities to speed videos up and slow them down. One of the most dangerous aspects for drivers, especially teen drivers, is the MPH “lens.” This displays the user’s speed in the image, and has been a huge temptation, leading to accidents and lawsuits as teens try to get the screen to display speeds over 100 mph.

Distracted driving can seem like the cause of teenage car accidents, but there are many other factors. Teens are at risk simply because of their ages and lack of driving experience. According to the CDC, teens are less likely to identify hazardous driving situations than older drivers and are more likely to speed and tailgate vehicles. Teens are also likely to drink and drive and forego seatbelt use.

While this may seem like a scary topic, there are things you can do to encourage your teens to be safer while driving this summer. Make sure they have plenty of experience driving during the day and night before taking their driver’s license exam. It’s important to educate your teens—teach and reinforce the dangers of distracted driving, especially when it comes to cell phone use, alcohol consumption, and transporting passengers.

If you or a teen you know were injured in an accident, contact a knowledgeable Colorado personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve.

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