In driving school, the instructor always emphasizes paying attention to the road. Despite being a fundamental piece of knowledge, distracted driving remains one of the country’s leading causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Even the most mundane distractions — such as taking a call, sending a text and eating behind the wheel — could lead to a collision. In 2021 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 3,522 fatalities linked to distracted driving incidents. They also noted 3,142 deaths during the previous year in 2020.
Additionally, one in five distracted driving fatalities were not drivers or passengers in motor vehicles. They were pedestrians, cyclists or other people who happened to be present during the crash. It means a distracted driver could be a threat to anyone.
Teenage drivers are at higher risk of fatal crashes
Data shows that teenage drivers tend to drive while distracted. Of all young driver deaths, 9% were driving while distracted when the crash happened.
Their distractions usually come as texting or emailing accompanied by other risky habits such as improper use of seatbelts or driving while intoxicated. This age group also tends to be beginner drivers. Their dangerous habits and lack of experience could increase the risk of fatal crashes.
What can I do to help?
Regardless of age, you could help lessen the risk by taking essential safety measures as a driver or passenger.
As the driver, you could finish all tasks — such as eating, texting and calling — before you start your trip. You could also set your phone to ignore notifications, calls and other distractions as you drive.
As the passenger, you could help by assisting the driver if they need to use navigation apps or send an urgent message. You could also call them out if they unintentionally pay attention to unavoidable distractions while driving.
As an adult, you can help teenage family members practice better road safety habits by supervising them when they are behind the wheel. You could also set an example whenever they join you as a passenger on road trips.
Distracted driving is everyone’s problem. Taking the initiative to prevent it could help save a life.