DES MOINES, Iowa -- Distracted driving is a dangerous problem in Iowa. According to the results of a AAA Foundation study released last month, there is significant evidence that distracted driving is a much more serious problem than previously known, especially with young drivers ages 16-19.
Due to inexperience, our youngest drivers fall into the highest risk group of drivers. The AAA study showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all the teen crashes studied compared to the 14 percent previously estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition, 89 percent of road-departure crashes, and 76 percent of rear-end crashes involving teen drivers were attributed to distracted driving.
Distracted driving is most commonly associated with texting and cell phone use for teens, but they are at the top of the list for adults. Studies show teen drivers are more distracted by other teens in the car than by cell phones. With one passenger, the distraction is generally caused by a conversation; with two or more passengers, the cause of the distraction often includes “horse-play,” loudness and passenger movement while the car is in motion.
With six out of ten teen crashes involving driver distraction, what can be done to change driving behavior? Parents should discuss the responsibility of driving as well as the associated dangers. Specific rules (no phone use when driving) should be established and put in writing. Remember to be a positive role model when you drive and don’t call your child when you know he/she is driving. Teen drivers should focus on the road at all times and remember that they are responsible for the safety of their passengers. Teen passengers should limit loud conversation, music, etc. and they should tell the driver to put away his/her phone if needed.
Although the recent study concentrated on teens, adults are also at risk. For many people, texting has become a habit. More than 40 percent of those who admitted to texting while driving called it a habit.
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau reminds you that we all share the roads and we all have a responsibility to make those roads a safer place for motorists of all ages. If you are texting, you’re not driving.
Media contact: Alex Murphy, GTSB Spokesman, Office of the Commissioner – DPS, at (515) 725-6189.