Distractions can come easy for teen drivers

With the technology boom over the past decade, it’s no confusion that cell phones and devices such as tablets present a major hurdle in the success of teen drivers. Items such as smart phones have become necessities for many people, most prominently with teenagers. This has made them one of the primary distractions when it comes to driving. Still, a number of other things can serve to increase risk with teen drivers.

According to a report this week, distractions can come from focus outside of driving. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that a focused mind can easily distract drivers from the man dangers on the road.

These findings are especially crucial for teenagers, who often have a stake in a number of different things. If a teenage driver has other things on their mind, such as relationships, tests, or a recent fight with parents, it could play a role in distracting their ability to locate potential risks while driving. The ability to scan the roadway regularly plays a large role in the safety of a driver, thus the findings present what could be viewed as a major issue.

It has always generally been accepted that an extreme level of thought could have a direct impact on the awareness of a driver, however this research points out that the impact could come with lower levels of thought as well.

The findings from the MIT research team come at a telling point, as automakers and lawmakers are debating in Washington over other aspects of distracted driving. The subject of these debates has been over liability for cases of distracted driving. Lawmakers are pointing blame towards automakers for the continuing development of in car technology such as navigation and stereo equipment. The automakers are fighting back by saying that if their products are restricted, so should portable GPS devices and smart phones.

While arguments in Washington heat up concerning technology and its role in distracted driving, MIT’s research should bring to light what is often overlooked, especially for teenagers. Subjects for MIT’s research ranged in age from 20-69, but the findings certainly would affect teen drivers as well. They were tested with low, medium and high demand tasks such as reading numbers off while driving. For all three levels of demand, concentration on the road was somewhat subjected.

For teenagers, the research is quite telling. What it shows is that more than ever, there’s a need to inform young drivers of the importance of keeping focus on the road. Communicating this importance to teen drivers will only serve to prepare them for the road.

Submitted by: Brooke Kerwin

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