Features 2-22-13

Distracted driving can lead to teen deaths


Teen Driver

Roar News Editor

As conditions change rapidly, it’s no secret drivers need to be safe on the roads, especially teen drivers. However, handheld electronic devices — especially phones — are increasing distractions and consequently, accidents.

Automobile accidents are the number one teen killer. In fact, they are the number one killer for all Americans ages 1 to 34. Teens are four times as likely to crash a car than any other age group. Eleven per cent of all distracted driving fatalities are teens ages 15 to 19.

Even one death in a school our size — less than 120 — impacts every student. According to the Center of Disease Control, 33,000 people were killed in car accidents. About 10,000 of those were killed due to alcohol-impaired drivers. Alcohol impairs your reaction time, but distracted driving can be just as deadly.

Texting is very popular in today’s society. Many kids, parents and students all use texting on a daily basis, becoming an important part in everyday lives. Texting has virtually eliminated using e-mail and is used significantly more than calling on a telephone. While texting does quicken your response time to a friend, it is extremely dangerous while driving. In fact one text takes away both your eyes and your hands from driving.

In fact, the time it takes to text while driving provides an equivalent impairment to having a blood alcohol content of 0.5 percent. This is FIVE TIMES the legal limit in California for people under the age of 21.

Texting while driving can cause many repercussions that can change lives. The distraction while driving can cause severe and even fatal car accidents. These accidents can earn a person a fine. According to the California Highway Patrol, for a first offense for texting while driving, you can get a base fine of twenty dollars. For a second offense it goes up to fifty dollars. This fine does not cover the amount for the ticket. The combination of the base fine as well as the citation given is significantly higher.

If you were in an accident that causes bodily injury to another person, the base fine is higher than a distracted driving fine. If the accident is your fault due to distracted driving, you also have the possibility of being arrested and serving jail time.

Many states are trying to curb the issue of texting while driving. To do this many states, including California and Nevada, have banned use of hands-on cellular devices.   This includes sending and receiving text messages and emails. Hands-free devices are legal but are not recommended to use while driving.

Programs have been created to inform teen drivers about the consequences of distracted driving as well has teaching them preventative measures and informing them of state laws.

For more information on distracted driving, laws, regulations, and facts on teen driving, go to any of the following: allstatefoundation.org, nhtsa.gov, noys.org, http://www.cdc.gov/injury/about/focus-mvs.html and KeeptheDrive.com.


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