Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Archive for November, 2009

Michigan puts activism before safety in drivers training

Posted by lapearce on November 30, 2009

Michigan is not in good financial state right now. Most states aren’t, but as far as financial woes go, Michigan is at the forefront with many of its bread-winning companies (GM, Chrysler) struggling to survive, corruption in its government and other serious problems. The state is running in the red and has the highest unemployment rate in the nation– 15.1% as of 11/20. Michigan has issues, but one of those issues is not a lack of environmental awareness among new drivers. However, some representatives in Michigan seem to think this problem is pressing enough to pursue when entire towns are being boarded up and abandoned due to the economic crisis.

Driver’s education should be the place where teens learn how to drive. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case in America. Our standards for licensing are incredibly poor and this is reflected in the high number of fatal teen crashes in the nation’s roads. Teens learn more about how to pass the drivers test and how a yield sign works than how to actually drive. They are not taught how to avoid crashes and they are not taught safe driving practices to help ensure they are never in the place where they need to avoid a crash. Michigan also lacks solid graduated drivers license laws. So not only is the state not teaching teens how to drive, its not offering them adequate protection once they get their license. But instead of fixing these problems two legislatures would rather cultivate new tree huggers in an education model that will only cause more crashes and more deaths.

Now, let me get something straight. I’m not anti-environment. I’m not for raping the earth just for our consumption. I don’t go out and hug many trees, but I do my part. I buy local and organic, I use reusable shopping bags, I drive a car that gets pretty good fuel economy, I take public transportation. Oh, and I vote Republican. But I’m a moderate. So I’m not against things like carpool or public transportation, I’m just against using the precious few hours teens spend in drivers education talking about these things instead of talking about, oh, you know– driving.

Michigan lawmakers  Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, and Dan Scripps, D-Leland have put forth a bill that would require drivers education to teach about buying fuel efficient cars and the benefits of carpooling and using public transportation. On its surface this may seem rather benign, but it is far from that.

First off: fuel efficient cars. Ok, whats wrong with that? Well, many fuel efficient cars sacrifice handling, braking and safety for the sake of a few miles per gallon. We’ve had a tug of war battle between safety and fuel economy in this nation since both environmentalism and Nader’s car safety campaign began in the 1970s. The sad fact is that these two agendas conflict with each other.

The Untied State’s CAFE standards kill people every year. CAFE is the US standards on fuel economy that started in the 1970s.  Manufactures are fined for not meeting standards, pushing them to make more fuel efficient cars. But fuel efficiency doesn’t always equal safety. Simply physics is that more weight protects you in a crash. Safety systems such as airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, and crumple zones are all heavy. So are powerful motors, navigation control, and heated motorized leather seats that the consumer demands. Throw all of these things into a car and you have one heavy vehicle… and that weight decreases fuel economy. So to increase fuel economy, manufacturers started to use lighter materials to make cars. The effect: 46,000 fatalities since CAFE was inacted that would have been avoided with better made cars. That’s 7,700 deaths for every mpg gained.

Prius are heavy and narrow, they handle and stop poorly which can lead to crashes

I’m not advocating that everyone drives Excurions guzzling gallons of gas a minute, but I also don’t think that the Prius and other fuel efficient cars are good choices for most people. Michigan has pretty bad weather, by focusing on fuel efficiency you may put kids who should be driving higher clearance AWD cars for the conditions in FWD cars that can’t handle snow as well, increasing crashes. What if you play sports? A little hatch back may not be the best option to haul around your gear. By emphasizing fuel efficiency only you are ignoring the different needs of different drivers. You are also ignoring other points of consideration for new cars such as safety, price and maintenance needs. This is before you even consider the fact that the average 16 year old isn’t the one going out and buying their first car, it is usually mom or dad.

Second problem: carpooling. There is a very good reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that teens not be allowed to carry passengers until they’ve had their license for a year. Teen drivers with ONE passenger in the car are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a teen driver driving along. Twice as likely. They are distracting and the lead to peer pressure. Teens are more likely to show off when they have other teens in the car in order to look cool for their friends– a trait that has lead to many crashes. Michigan does not include passenger restrictions in their graduated drivers laws. Instead of asking why not, these two legislature are taking advantage in the flaws in the system to further their agendas. By encouraging carpooling they will kill kids.

Yes, carpooling saves gas, it keeps miles of the car, it makes Mother Nature sing a loving song right out of a Disney movie, but it is also dangerous. Ask any parent what is more important to them: saving a few bucks a month on fuel economy or having their child reach 17. I think we all know how that one is going to end.

Well what about public transportation? I think public transportation is great. I use the train myself quite a bit instead of driving. I don’t have any objection to teaching teens about public transportation… in another venue. Why teach drivers about not driving? Isn’t that like teaching math in history class? It doesn’t make sense to be in driver’s education at all. There is also probably a safety aspect here to teenage girls taking public transportation late at night too that I’m sure many parents would have issue with.

Our teens get precious little education when it comes to driving. It is a big problem that should be addressed. It has been said that if teen driving was a disease that killed 5,000 teens each year the nation would be in an uproar. Everyone would be trying to find a cure, there would be walks, donation drives, etc, but the fatal teen driving epidemic cannot be cured by a pill, it can only be cured by more and higher quality education. I feel there is a huge flaw in our system of government when it comes to setting laws. We entrust people without actual knowledge in issues to create laws for them. If either Bert Johnson or Dan Scripps of Michigan had any worthwhile drivers education and experience, or if either of them had just bothered to look at the NHTSA teen driving page, they would realize their law was a bad idea.

Stop taking driving out of drivers training! We need more in car education not less. Take your environmental agenda to a place that is more approrpaite and leave drivers training for drivers training!


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Holidays and broken laws

Posted by lapearce on November 28, 2009

I have a bad relationship with a certain stop sign on holidays. This stop sign is about half a mile from my parents house. Because I’m a loving daughter who spends time with her family, I tend to encounter this stop sign on holidays. On July 4th at this certain stop sign I almost got T-boned by another car that completely forgot to stop. Luckily, because I’m a cautious and aware driver, I was paying attention and was able to slam on my brakes as he sailed through the intersection at about 40 mph. He miss my car by about a foot. (If that isn’t an argument for defensive driving I don’t know what is).

On Thanksgiving I encountered another oblivious driver at this now infamous stop sign. I went to the grocery store on Thanksgiving to pick up some odds and ends that were forgotten, like cranberries and eggs for my dad’s wonderful homemade pecan pie. I approach the stop sign to turn left. I do my due diligence of scanning before moving forward, then I do what I always do: I look in my rear view mirror. This important defensive driving tool is so often forgotten now days. It’s a great way of seeing what disaster approaches so you can avoid it. On Thursday it revealed a Honda Odyssey. The minivan was a lane over, I wasn’t in danger from it, but there was another car waiting to turn left in front of the 4,500 lb juggernaut about to blatantly blow the stop sign as if it never existed. I started to enter the intersection then it became very obvious: she was not going to stop.

I stopped and watched both the person waiting to turn left and her. I honked once: the person turning left stopped. Then I honked a second time and she sailed through the intersection. No brake lights, no reaction, nothing. What was more surprising was that she wasn’t distracted. There was no phone, no map, no yelling baby in the back seat. This woman looked like she was hypnotized. Her hands were at 10 and two and she was looking straight ahead… she was so focused and yet, not paying attention to anything. After she carried on her merry, dangerous way the person waiting to turn left turned safely and I continued on my way to my parents, thinking about the moron in the Corolla who almost ruined my 4th of July at the same intersection.

Is it a coincidence that I witnessed two people fly through this stop sign at two separate holidays? Perhaps. I’d like to think that the answer is that both times it was people who were unfamiliar with the area and in the process of watching street signs and trying to find out where they were going for the holiday that they missed the stop sign. I doubt alcohol was a factor in either case, the near miss in July was at 11am, and thursday the Odyssey failed to stop at about 2 in the afternoon. But in both cases the drivers weren’t on the phone, they didn’t have maps in their hands or any obvious distractions. In any case, I’m curious to see what happens on Christmas when I come to this stop sign once again… what law-breaker will I encounter that time?

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Parents’ driving effect how teens drive

Posted by lapearce on November 23, 2009

What bad habits are you teaching your children?

Are you a good driver? Do you use your turn blinker, follow at a safe distance, obey speed limits… do you use your phone while you drive, do you yell at other drivers, do you drive without your seat belt? If you have children, you should probably review how you drive, not just for the safety of your children today, but for the sake of their driving future.

While we may think that teenagers strive to be nothing like their parents, when it comes to driving, teens look up to their parents more than anyone else. “If children grow up watching their Mum or Dad talk, text and email on their mobiles while driving, they’re going to think it’s okay to do the same thing.” says Peter Rodger chief examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists in the UK.

Rodger says that children start to take note of their parents driving style from a young age. Even if you enforce seat belt use for your children, if you don’t wear one, your child will likely not buckle up when they start driving.

A US based study done by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) found that 60% of high school students said their parents are the biggest influence on their driving. Younger children report even higher numbers, showing they are watching you long before they are able to drive themselves.

So 60% of teens look up to their parents as the number one influence on their driving, yet:

  • 62% say their parents talk on the phone while driving
  • 48% say their parents speed
  • 31% say their parents don’t wear seat belts

So perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that:

  • 62% of teens talk on the phone while driving (half of those who don’t yet drive think they will too)
  • 67% speed (65% of non drivers think they will)
  • 33% don’t wear seat belts (28% of non drivers say they won’t)

The numbers are too close to be coincidence. This is why our driving program involves parents. Many of the safe driving tips we teach were not taught to parents, or have been forgotten. When parents are involved the crash risk drops substantially among teen drivers. If parents put forth a good example for their teens, crash rates drop even more. Before you do something unsafe on the road look in the back seat: will your decision effect more than just you?

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Worst driving invention ever?

Posted by lapearce on November 23, 2009

Worst idea ever?

Have you ever been driving in your car and think, “wow, this trip would be so much better if I had a desk where I could read or write while I drive?” Apparently some guy with half a brain and enough money to make this a reality did. The result is the laptop steering wheel desk, quite possibly the worst driving aid ever invented.

Is it just some elaborate joke? No, it’s not. First it takes money to put something on Amazon, secondly, the makers, Mobile Gear, have an actual Web site where you can buy it as well.

I’m going to take this out of the hoax category and firmly in the bad-ideas-that-actually-exist category right next to the Snuggie and the the Big Top Cupcake Maker (easily worst problem-solution commerical on TV right now). The big difference is that you don’t risk your life by wearing an over sized backwards robe or by making ridiculously big cupcakes. Unless, of course, you trip on the robe or get heart disease from the cholesterol in the cupcakes, but you would be risking your life every time you used the laptop steering wheel desk.

I cannot imagine why anyone would think this was a good idea. Distracted driving killed about 6,000 people in 2008. This is more than all of the teen driving deaths in the United States that same year. Distracted driving, or inattention, is one of the major causes of crashes in the United States.

So lets put a desk on people’s steering wheel that allows them to multitask while they drive… brilliant!

Luckily, many of the people who found the Laptop Steering Wheel Desk on Amazon realized it was a bad idea. They blanketed the site with false reviews and photos that pointed out the inherent danger of the device. Here are some of my favorites:

"Even works in super luxury GT cars. Desk floats to keep your expensive electronics dry."

"I gave these out as gifts to people in the office. The best part was we could all browse the web while waiting for the emergency crews to arrive."

"Makes driving and working a breeze"

"Enhances social networking"

“Wow is this thing great! I use it as a “mini-bar” when the friends and I go out to the bars. I can quickly fix multiple shots of tequila for myself and the friends as we drive from one bar to the next.!”

“One cautionary note be careful of those jerks that stop at yellow lights, my poor mother rear ended one and the airbag drove the desk back into her stomach which ruptured her spleen, well after a short down time I’m glad to say she is back on the road and cranking out those NY Times crosswords once again. Thanks Laptop Steering Wheel Desk you have made my mothers life more complete.”

“This product is so awesome for freeway driving and makes reloading your handgun while changing lanes a breeze. The only thing missing is a cupholder for my tequila. I attached a pen on a string to mine to mark my hits and misses.”

If you would like to tell the manufacturer of this product that they are complete morons, please call:

Mobile Gear


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Car crashes: the next global pandemic

Posted by lapearce on November 20, 2009

Ethiopians are 134 times more likely to be killed in a car crash than Englishmen. Even though the country has only 1.5 cars per 1,000 people there is a fatal crash for every 60 cars on the road, compared to one for every 8,000 cars in the Western world. If everyone in Ethiopia had a car, and the life expectancy was 60 years, everyone would be death before they were 60.

That’s a scary thought.

Ethiopia is part of a growing trend of auto fatalities as more and more developing nations are becoming affluent enough to afford cars, but not affluent enough to have good roads, laws, education or well-maintained vehicles. The result is a massacre. Africa’s share of automobile fatalities is three times higher than its share of automobiles, a trend similar across most of the developing world. If nothing is done about the problem, car crashes will be a top three killer worldwide in a decade.

Someone is stepping up to do something about it. The UN’s Road Safety Collaboration is holding its first global conference on traffic safety today and tomorrow. The conference’s goals are:

  • Draw attention to the need for action to address the large and growing global impact of road traffic crashes, in particular in low and middle income countries
  • Review progress on implementation of the World report on road traffic injury prevention and the UN General Assembly resolutions
  • Provide a high-level global multisectoral policy platform to share information and good practices on road safety
  • Propose a number of actions for the future, including a discussion of the resources needed to fulfill these actions

PRI’s The World did a segment today on the conference and the epidemic of fatal car crashes the developing world. It really is tragic. Doctors are constantly trying to save lives in very avoidable crashes. These crashes wouldn’t happen with better roads, more driver’s education and better enforcement of laws. Many crashes happen at the hands of drunk drivers in the developing world as well.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed now. It will only get worse as more people can afford cars in the developing world.

Here is an example of what driving is like in a place without driver’s ed or enforced laws:

For more information please check out My E-shoe Box’s blog post on the problem:

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Recap of the teen driving panel at Vistamar high school

Posted by lapearce on November 19, 2009


Judy speaking to 150 parents and teens

Driving Concepts Foundation had the honor of being invited to be part of a panel discussion on teen driving at Vistamar High School in El Segundo California. Our founder, Judy Ray, a member of Students Against destructive Decisions (SADD), an insurance agent and two police officers made up the panel. After introductions and a few questions the attention was turned to questions from the audience.


Some questions that were asked:

Q: Is it against the law to text while you sit at a light?

A: Yes. If someone isn’t paying attention and doesn’t stop you won’t be able to avoid the crash if you are looking at your phone.


Q: How much driver’s training is necessary?

A: A lot more than is required! Teens need as much experience as they can get before they are allowed on the road alone.


Q: How can you make sure your teen driver does what you want them to do?

A: There is technology out there to monitor them, but at the end of the day it comes down to your parenting and your enforcement of rules that you set.


Q: (from teen) I want a motorcycle, is that a good idea?

A: No. They take a lot more attention and concentration to drive and being a new driver, you have enough to focus on to not have to throw that into the mix. Also, if something does go wrong you won’t have anything to protect you. As said by one of the police officers, “Wait until you are 40”.


Q: I heard if you took the keys out of the ignition and put them on the floor you can’t be cited for drunk driving, is that true?

A: Not at all. “That is horrible advice” said one officer. You will get a DUI if you try this or anything like this.


Q: What will happen to insurance if a teen is caught with a DUI/will damages in a DUI/distracted driving crash be covered by insurance?

A: The teen will likely be dropped from insurance if they get a DUI. Insurance will cover damages as that is part of liability coverage.


Q: What are the rules of a provisional license in California?

A: For the first year: no passengers unless accompanied by a driver 20 or over and no driving between 11 p.m.-5a.m. There are provisions for family members, school events, work, etc. Also, alcohol and call phones are completely off limit. 0.01 is a DUI and bluetooth is a cell phone violation. Violations of provisional licence can lead to the loss of a license for a year or until the age of 18. (More info)


Audience at the panel discussion

It was a great panel and Judy’s knowledge and experience really shined. The parents and the students both loved what she added as a professional race car driver AND a teen driving instructor. We handed out a number of brochures and many parents told us that they would be signing their students up. That was great, I’m glad we were able to get through to people. Before the panel discussion parents who came by the booth focused on cost and location, afterward parents wanted to know how to sign their children up. It’s amazing how a little bit of information can change their mindset.


Our program pays for itself a number of times over if it means your child avoids one car crash. If that crash they avoid happens to be a fatal one the pay off is priceless. You can’t put a price on the life of your child.

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How can parents find safe driving schools?

Posted by lapearce on November 19, 2009

An investigative report at WKYC in Ohio has unveiled some frightening facts at driving schools in and around Cleveland. Since 2006 45 schools have received violations that range from cars with frozen brake pedals to not enough books and instructors in the classroom. One mother, Susan Sigman, thought she put her 16-year-old daughter Lauren in good hands with the school she selected. Then, during an in-car driving lesson the brakes failed at 55 mph. The car was able to coast to a stop without hitting anything, but the situation could have been tragic.

Parents are often advised to take the time to investigate the driving school they chose. However, when the undercover reporter asked three of the schools with violations if they had any violations they all told him no. When he spoke to an owner of two of the schools he said, “Those are just words on paper”.  While the schools all fixed their violations, or were closed down, it is still disturbing that so many schools would have cars unfit to be on a road, or classrooms unsuitable for learning. One school was even caught giving diplomas to students for accomplishing only a fraction of the in-car requirement.

Parents are also advised to look at the cars and make sure they are well maintained. In a perfect world everyone would be able to look at a car and be able to tell if the brakes were in good shape, if the tires were worn, if the shocks were good, and if the belts under the hood needed replacing. But from my experience working with parents, many can’t do this. Parents need to learn because your child needs to learn how to do these things, but when investigating a driving school I suggest you bring someone with you who does know about these things. Try not to pay your mechanic to go with you, but if you have that friend that does some work on his car, ask him to tag along.

Parents are also told to research the company. The BBB is a good place to start, but not all problems are reported. One of the schools with violations has a B+ on BBB, and the BBB doesn’t report violations only complaints.When I googled the same school I could not find any indication that they had violations.

As for going to your state’s or county’s Web site to try and find violations, I have found that it is incredibly difficult to find this information online. If you google “Orange County driving school violations” all the results are for court ordered driving school to remove violations from your driving record. I also could not find the information on the State’s public safety page or the DMV page.

In Los Angeles, restaurants need to clearly display their health code rating on the front window of the establishment,

Restaurateur with clearly visible health code rating

so everyone going in knows if they have an A or a B or heavens forbid a C. There is a Web site where you can search your favorite restaurant and see how it does, and even what the infractions are. My favorite Vietnamese place has the habit of thawing meat in water that’s not running. But I still eat there, because I don’ t leave the water running when I thaw meat either. Restaurants are also checked far more frequently. In Ohio driving schools are inspected ever year with a full inspection that looks at cars every other year.

A lot more people die on the road every year than die of food poisoning, and yet when it comes to driving schools, establishments that have teenagers lives in their hands, it is near impossible to see how they rank.

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Connecticut police release video of crash that killed two teens

Posted by lapearce on November 18, 2009


Screen shot of video where one police car is passing the other. Note the speed is 66mph

This is a horrible situation.  On June 13 of this year a police dash cam recorded a crash between another police car and a vehicle with two teens in it. The two cruisers were driving over 70mph in a 40mph zone without lights or sirens and while they were not responding to any call. The officers got to an intersection with a flashing red (to be treated like a stop sign) and flew through it without so much of a blip of the lights or a tap of the brakes. The teen driver, who likely assumed that the approaching cars would stop like they were supposed to or who was unable to judge the distance at that speed, turned in front of one of the police officers and was t-boned.


Ashlie Krakowski and David Servin, both 19 years old, were killed in the crash. Now, six months after the crash, questions are finally being answered and justice is being served. The police officer who hit the teens has been charged with two counts of second degree manslaughter and the other police officer is being investigated as well. I hope he loses his job.

This horrible tragedy reminds us that we never know what may happen on the road. Who would expect an officer in charge of protecting, serving and enforcing laws would blatantly break them and take two lives in the process? How many times do you enter an intersection thinking that the other cars are going to stop like they are supposed to? The road is full of surprises and unexpected events can happen at any time.

My deepest condolences to the families of the young adults killed in the crash. To everyone else: please, be safe and aware out there.

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Surprise, surprise: more drivers training reduces crashes

Posted by lapearce on November 18, 2009

Ever read a headline with a statement that is such common sense that you almost wonder why it was written at all? “Exercise makes people healthier” or “Students who do homework excel in school” how about “Teen driver injuries reduced by graduated drivers licensing“.

Graduated drivers licenses are spreading to most states in the Union. The program includes higher amounts of behind-the-wheel training, restrictions on night driving and passengers, higher minimum age for receiving a permit or license and stricter penalties for teens who break laws during the provisional period. The purpose of the programs is a three hit combo of better education, reducing the causes of crashes and incentives to follow the laws. Nation wide, the programs decrease crashes by about 19 percent and actually save states money. Despite this, not all states have GDL requirements.

A study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Injury Research Center in Milwaukee and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin studied GDL requirements and five years of crash data from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, OThio and Wisconsin. It found that more than 300 deaths and over 21,000 injuries could have been prevented if the states had better GDL programs.

The changes the team feels could have saved these lives  are:

1. Minimum age of 16 years for obtaining a learner’s permit

2. A holding period of at least six months after obtaining a learner permit before applying for intermediate phase

3. At least 30 hours of supervised driving

4. Minimum age of 16.5 years for entering the intermediate phase

5. No unsupervised driving at night after 10 p.m. during the intermediate phase

6. No unsupervised driving during the intermediate phase with more than one passenger younger than 20 years

7. Minimum age of 17 years for full licensure.

These requirements are recommended by AAA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It found that more than 300 deaths and over 21,000 injuries could have been prevented if the states had better GDL programs.

With all of this evidence that the programs work, why do so few states require all of the recommended components in their GDL program? It seems so simple: tighten restrictions on new drivers, save their lives. I feel the problem is that people don’t understand that there is a problem, there for, they aren’t interested in the solution.

Many parents are unaware of the dangers of teen driving, or if they are aware, they think their child is different. Then you have law makers who don’t want to enact laws that they themselves don’t abide by (proof by the New York legislature voting down seat belt legislation because many of them don’t wear seat belts). On top of all of that you have citizens who are wary of laws and government controls and others with the inaccurate idea that driving is a right, there for, it cannot be restricted… try that one when you are pulled over for driving drunk and see how it goes.

In order to save lives by getting more states to fully enact GDL and more importantly to increase their drivers training to include more than just the rules of the road and basic car operation we need to inform people of the problem that exists. If people understood that there was a problem and if they understood the solution we’d be more likely to do something about it.

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Teens still text while driving

Posted by lapearce on November 16, 2009

A car gets a flat tire in the passing lane of a freeway. The driver puts the hazards on, but five other cars still manage to hit the disabled vehicle causing a pile up. This crash wasn’t caused by text messaging, but the one a mile back in the traffic caused by the pile up was.

17 year old Laurie Cartwright was likely distracted by a text message when she hit the tractor-trailer in front of her that was stopped in traffic from the crash caused by the disabled car a mile up the road. The crash took Laurie’s life. In fact, last year nearly 6,000 people died from distracted driving, many from cell phone/texting.

Last year nearly 6,000 people died from distracted driving.

Screen shot from the gruesome UK PSA on texting while driving

Laurie’s story is one that is shared by many people across the United States. Yet despite personal experience, the wide-spread acknowledgment that texting while driving is dangerous, and even gory PSAs warning against the practice, a new study by the Pew Institute shows that one-in-three teens text while they drive. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Similar studies done in specific states such as Colorado and Texas have also shown even higher percentages of texting teens. If anything, the study should say “Texting while driving decreases among teen drivers.

A more disturbing fact found in the Pew study is that many teens confessed that they have seen their parents text while drive.  One teen said his dad drives “like he’s drunk. His phone is just like sitting right in front of his face, and he puts his knees on the bottom of the steering wheel and tries to text.” How can we expect our children to drive safely when this is the example we put before them?

The other problem here is the feeling of invincibility most teens have.

Try this experiment if you disagree with me. Ask any new driver how they think they compare to other drivers on the road. Chances are they will tell you that they are better than the average driver. You know, and I know, that based on the amount of experience they’ve had behind the wheel the chances of them being better than average are pretty slim, unless they are some driving prodigy. Despite this, most teens suffer from delusions of grandeur when it comes to their driving ability, and it shines through in the type of crashes they are involved in (typically caused by following too close, speeding and distractions.)

One teen in the Pew study said,  “I usually try to keep the phone up near the windshield, so if someone is braking in front of me or stops short, I’m not going to be looking down and hit them.” another said “it’s fine” to text and drive, and that he wears sunglasses while doing it “so the cops don’t see”

How do you overcome a false sense of skill and get it across to kids that what they are doing is bad? One thing to do is to show them how much texting does effect their awareness and reaction time. Unless you have professional driving instructors teaching this is best done outside of the car. Another option is to look at software that turns phones off while driving, such as Zoomsafer. Parents need to reenforce the dangers of this practice and set rules.

Here are some take aways from the Pew study:

  • 52 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who have cell phones say they have talked on their phones while driving.
  • 34 percent of teens ages 16 and 17 who text say they have done so while driving.
  • 48 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver was texting.
  • 40 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver “used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.”
  • 75 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, and 66 percent of them send or receive text messages.
  • Boys and girls are equally likely to report to texting while driving.
  • Many teens blame the need to report their whereabouts to friends and parents as the reason for texting while driving.

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