8 On Your Side: Teen Driving Distractions

Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving?  “Finally, a ‘New Driver’ car magnet my teenager is willing to accept….” CLICK HERE to see.

http://www.ktul.com/ 
Thursday May 31, 2007 8:20am   Reporter: Mark Bradshaw 

Tulsa – About ten percent of all car accidents in Oklahoma involve a teenage driver. But, can you chalk it up to inexperience? 8 On Your Side Mark Bradshaw gives you a front seat to what really happens with a teen behind the wheel.This story hit me, quite literally, a few months ago. In a span of just a few weeks, my 16-year-old son hit another car, then one of his friends did. And, then my car was hit from behind. The 16-year-old driver told me he took his eyes off the road because his cat was scratching him. So, what goes on inside that car load of teenagers? You really want to know? 8 On Your Side put a tiny camera in one to find out.For teenagers, the automobile has always been more than just a mode of transportation. It’s their escape and social life on wheels, distractions and all. “I’ve seen people putting on make-up, a lot of times I drive with one of my friends and she’ll be sitting there text messaging.”Those distractions are a big reason why traffic accidents are still the number one killer of teenagers in the U-S. So what goes on inside that car that leads to so many accidents, including one caused by my own son? And how can teenagers and their parents learn from it?Like most teenagers, 16-year-old Corwin Meyer thinks he’s a good driver, and his parents hope he is. So, 8 On Your Side put it to the test. We set up a camera in Corwin’s Suburban for several days, recorded his driving habits and then hit the rewind button to watch. We saw plenty of typical distractions. The tops ones? Talking on the phone and even dialing while driving.

Here Corwin takes his eyes off the road and hands off the wheel to change a CD. We saw one handed and no handed driving more than once. And, we counted three teenage passengers in his Suburban. Notice at least two of the passengers are not wearing their seat belts. Long time driving instructor Jerry Walters says because teenage drivers are so inexperienced, a simple distraction is dangerous.

“When their hands are off the wheel and their eyes are off the road, then in a split second you’re traveling 75 feet a second at 50 miles an hour.”

And that could be disaster. Distracted teens behind the wheel have become a big enough problem that one insurance company. American Country is now making dashboard cameras available for many of its clients who have young drivers. Parents can watch together and make suggestions to become a better driver.

“The seat belt in the back seat not being on really bothers me a lot because he knows that’s what we stress,” says Corwin’s mom, Erin Mahoney.

“Vehicles are extremely dangerous and he is of statistic age from 16 to 17, a male driver, and I don’t want him to end up a statistic, nor anyone else who’s viewing this,” adds Corwin’s dad Charlie Meyer.

Now, Corwin’s parents only hope what he learned will stick with him long after the camera is off.

There are other ways you can monitor and improve teenager’s driving besides putting a camera in their car. You can also put a tracking device on the vehicle or give them a short course in driving school. Better yet, set a good driving example yourself. Kids learn by watching you.

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