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How to fight distracted driving

April 14, 2015

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to the National Safety Council, which makes this the perfect time for motorists to develop a better understanding of safe driving. A new study revealed that distracted driving is a bigger problem among teenagers than previously thought.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a comprehensive analysis involving crash videos uncovered 6 in 10 teen auto accidents involved distracted driving as a factor. This means 58 percent of teenager car accidents were caused by distracted driving, which is four times greater than the rate of 14 percent formerly provided by the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration.

Distracted driving is a dangerous problem among teenage motorists.

This recent research demonstrates that not only does distracted driving happen, but it's causing accidents. The most common distractions included interacting with other passengers, cell phone use, looking at something both in and outside of the vehicle, singing and moving to music, grooming and reaching for an object in the car.

“It is troubling that passengers and cell phones were the most common forms of distraction given that these factors can increase crash risks for teen drivers,” said AAA CEO Bob Darbelnet.

Even though teen drivers are engaging in distracting behavior is disappointing, there is a bright side. Now that parents and auto insurance companies know the causes of teenagers' higher crash rates, the strategies to promote safe driving can be adapted to be more effective. Here's a few tips on how you can prevent distracted driving for yourself and your teenage children:

Stop the cell phone use

With busy lives, it's understandable why you have the urge to pick up the phone while on the road. Some things seem like they can't wait, but they really can. Using a cell phone while driving makes drivers of all ages four times more likely to be involved in a collision. Encourage your kids to put the phone away while driving, and set the example yourself. There are plenty of free smartphone applications that can send a response text to those trying to contact you, letting them know you're unavailable because you're driving. Remember, while hands-free is OK by law, it's not always the safer option. The conversation itself can take motorists' attention from the roadway.

Limit how many people can be in the car

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, interacting with other passengers in the car was the leading cause of distracted driving accidents for teenagers. Make sure your kids understand the danger of having all of their friends in the car. While it might seem like a fun idea, it can be extremely dangerous for everyone involved. Limit the number of people in the car while a teenager is driving to one friend and one sibling, for example. This way, the conversation will be at a minimum, but your teens can still use the car to get where they need to go.

Keep your focus on the road

While this tip seems obvious, there are certain measures you can take to ensure that your eyes stay on the road and off of things in your car. For both you and your teens, make adjustments in your car before even pulling out of the driveway. Be sure your mirrors are positioned correctly, set up the GPS, tune into your favorite radio station and place any loose objects well out of the way of the driver's seat. Do any grooming or dressing at home, so you're not trying to do it while driving.

By following some of these safety tips, you can help lower the risks of crashes caused with distracted driving.