Cell phones have become increasingly important fixtures in Americans’ lives, aided by the convenience and constant access provided by mobile devices, especially smartphones. With 92% of teens going online daily public concern over their use while driving has grown.
Teen drivers are generally at a much higher crash risk when compared to other drivers. 3x more likely – with 16-19 year olds having the highest fatality rate due to car crashes. But to date there has been a gap in understanding to what extent specific behaviors and relative lack of driving experience may contribute to this elevated risk. So far studies have not been able to examine what exactly is causing distraction, something we at TrueMotion have set out to uncover. Fact is, teens remain the most at risk driving demographic, and we want to change that statistic through the help of our safe driving app, TrueMotion Family.
Teens are by far the most connected generation! And here’s what else we know about teens and tech (stats according to Pew Research):
Distractions among young drivers are of particular concern, as the highest incidence of distracted driving occurs in the under-20 age group. Among the most frequently used social apps Facebook ranks #1, as the most popular platform among teens.
New research released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) examines a variety of tasks that draw drivers’ eyes away from the roadway and suggests that text messaging (or app use) on a cell phone is associated with the highest risk among all cell phone-related tasks observed among drivers. Texting or app usage requires three functioning or processing centers – manual, cognitive and visual – which by definition also yields distraction.
Shockingly, studies also show that teens who text while driving are nearly twice as likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking. This can quite possibly be explained by recent findings that link certain personality traits to increased distraction behavior. The study found that “in teens, higher levels of openness and conscientiousness were predictive of greater reported texting frequency and interacting with a phone while driving, while lower levels of agreeableness was predictive of fewer reported instances of texting and interacting with a phone while driving.” One could draw the conclusion that those same traits cross over into other risky behaviors.
Mobile phones have immense public utility, improving communication in social and commercial interactions, especially for teens. Nonetheless, their role in driver distraction and consequently in car crashes means that some measure of “reining in” their use while driving is required. This will require legislative measures, creative ways of enforcement, some degree of regulation of industry, and a shift in societal perceptions about what behaviour is “acceptable” at the wheel.
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