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

These Tips Could Save Your Teen Driver’s Life

I found this article today at http://shermanoaks.patch.com and wanted to share it with by blog readers. It is a very great and powerful article about teen drivers!

Traffic accidents are the major cause of teen deaths. Parents who serve as good role models for a young driver can help prevent a tragedy.

For first responders, it’s a scene that has become all too commonplace. One moment an entire family is driving home from a local outing and just blocks from their residence. In the next moment, they’re involved in a horrific traffic accident that either completely or nearly kills the entire family.

After firefighters work feverishly, using the Jaws of Life to pry apart steel wrapped around steel, to get to the injured parties, they often find out that the accident involved a teenage driver. And many of those teen drivers become fatalities as well.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 there was a total of 3,081 fatal traffic accidents (these are the latest stats) on California’s highways. Of those, 351 involved drivers between the ages of 16 and 20. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and young drivers in this age bracket across the nation, and the causes are many, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles:

* Unsafe speed: 35 percent.

* Not yielding the right of way: 20 percent.

* Improper turns: 15 percent.

* Alcohol-related: 5 percent.

An ever increasing statistical bracket is distracted drivers (texting, cell-phone usage, other teens in the car).

In a huge proportion of cases, these fatalities are preventable because they involve unnecessary risk taking, not wearing seat belts and lack of skill. The risk of accidents is three times higher when driving at night and 3.6 times higher when other passengers are in the car.

Although overall statistics for teen-related traffic deaths are down, many of the habits that our teen drivers learn begin at home. As parents, we have more influence than we sometimes know. So these tips, accompanied by some strong parenting, can help make your teen’s driving experience a little safer:

1) Never expect that your teen driver is going to learn everything from driver’s training courses. They need practice, and lots of it! Schedule times for them to drive, first in unpopulated areas, and then when you’re comfortable, heavier traffic areas.

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2) The fruit never falls far from the tree. If you drive like an idiot, then what do you expect from your teen? They need a strong role model who can explain, not only how, but why you do the things you do. Use a lot of teachable moments.

3) Always insist on using seat belts at all times! This is something that should be taught to them almost from birth. Remember, “Click It or Ticket.”

4) Limit nighttime driving and additional passengers in the car. You know when your teen driver is ready to take on more responsibility. There’s no rush to drive at night.

5) “Take this phone and shove it!” Need I say more? Put them in the trunk, keep them in the back seat, and remove any temptation to text or talk on the phone. And you can’t keep constantly calling them to ask their whereabouts if this tip is going to work.

6) Drinking and driving is a no-brainer. It’s unacceptable and should be subject to severe consequences if the law doesn’t have its way with your teen first

Michigan’s Graduated Driver’s License Level 2 Restrictions Change

Graduated Driver’s License Level 2 Restrictions will take effect on March 30, 2011. The law will add the following new requirements:

Prohibit a driver with a Level 2 graduated driver’s license (GDL) from operating a motor vehicle carrying more than one passenger who is under 21 years of age, unless:
a. passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family, or
b. travel is to or from school or a school-sanctioned event.

In addition, the nighttime restriction has been extended to 10:00 p.m. from the original midnight starting time. The new nighttime restriction is from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m unless driving to or from employment.

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Both of these restrictions remain for the duration of the Level 2 graduated driver’s license.

The sanctions for violating these new provisions are:
A civil infraction is entered and 2 points are added to the driving record.
Notice of the civil infraction shall be sent to a designated parent or guardian.
GDL Level 2 period is extended for 12 months.
A driver reexamination will be scheduled with possible license suspension and/or additional restrictions imposed.

For additional information, please visit the Michigan Department of State website at http://www.Michigan.gov/sos. You may also contact us by telephone at (517) 241-6850 or by email at DriverEd@Michigan.gov.

A video from AT&T about the dangers of distracted driving

Text messaging can wait. Learn about the dangers of texting and driving and read wireless safety guides for parents, teens and all drivers.

Click here to view the video…..

Michigan Approves Additionals Restrictions on Graduated Licenses

Teenagers will find tougher restrictions this spring when a law passed at the end of the legislative session goes into effect.

Restrictions on Michigan’s graduated licenses for 16-year-olds will include:

• No driving from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless traveling to and from a place of employment. That’s changed from midnight to 5 a.m.
• Only one passenger age 20 and under, unless accompanied by a parent or an adult over age 21 designated by the parent. There are exceptions for driving to and from school and school events.

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These are good restrictions that will help save lives. Indeed, a Centers for Disease Control analysis released in October found a 38 percent drop in 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal accidents between 2004 and 2008. The analysis attributed the drop to tougher graduated licensing restrictions passed by the states.

The CDC found 9,644 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal accidents during that five-year span, causing more than 11,000 deaths. The study recommended that states periodically review their graduated licensing to make adjustments.

Michigan did just that, taking steps to further reduce two of the most dangerous situations for young drivers: inexperience at night driving and difficulty coping with distractions caused by passengers.
The CDC analysis specifically noted that the data don’t indicate improvement in the skills of young drivers as much as tougher laws that are keeping more teen drivers out of dangerous situations.

The Automobile Association of America, which advocated for tougher restrictions, noted that Michigan had been one of only eight states with no restrictions on passengers carried by young drivers, even though it had been among the front runners when adopting graduated licensing in 1997.

Sadly, lawmakers missed a chance to make the roads safer still by banning the use of cell phones in cars. The revisions to the state’s young driver law originally called for a ban on cell phone use, which was dropped before final approval.

Of course, that restriction should not be limited to teens on a graduated license. Research shows that driving while talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving while impaired. The Legislature passed a ban on text messaging while driving last year, but failed to ban talking on cell phones while driving. With a new legislative session opening, that’s one bill Michigan could use.

Source: LSJ.com

Cell Phone Use While Driving……

is pervasive, according to reports from teen respondents of the National Young Driver Survey.

1. 80% of teen drivers own a cell phone.

2. Nine out of 10 have witnessed teen drivers talking on a cell phone; seven out of 10 sometimes see emotionally upset teens drive while talking on a cell phone.

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3. 53% have seen teens use another kind of handheld device (text messaging, MP3 player, or game) while driving.

4. 48% reported talking on the phone while driving.

Summer is a Dangerous Time for Teen Drivers

This coming weekend will mark the beginning of summer for many schoolchildren. It also is the start of the most dangerous time of year for young people on the nation’s roads.

States have done just about everything they can to try to improve the traffic safety record among teens; Now it’s up to teens and their families and friends to do even more.

The statistics don’t lie. Drivers age 16 to 20 account for more highway deaths than any other 5-year age group, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, and the death rate is worst during the summer months — when teens are driving and playing more than during school.

The problem is compounded by the fact that teen drivers and their passengers also are the least likely to use seat belts.

And it doesn’t help that the inexperienced drivers in this age group also are most likely to be distracted — by friends and by cell phones, especially.

Most states require that a 15-year-old who has completed basic driver’s education requirements must then spend 50 hours over the next six months driving with a parent or guardian, 10 of those hours at night.

During this superviser learning program parents can improve their teens new driving experience by identifying the vehicle the teen is driving with a “Rookie Driver” or a “New Driver” magnet. Simple to use, just place the magnet on the car when the teen is driving (along with the parent) and take the magnets off when the parents are driving.

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With successful completion of that six-month period, young drivers can receive restricted licenses.

As this summer gets into full swing, now is a good time for parents to sit their teenagers down for an important talk about safety and the rules that should accompany the privilege — and it is a privilege, not a right — of newfound four-wheeled freedom.