Nighttime driving is already dangerous. First, obviously it’s harder to see because it’s dark. Some roads aren’t even lit. If you’re tired, you’ll respond more slowly. Then, if you add distracted driving and teens to the mix – who are inexperienced night drivers - you’ve got ‘a perfect storm’ for accidents. In fact, a study we read about on the Associated Press website blames cell phone talking and texting for a ten percent increase in fatal nighttime crashes among teens. It was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute. Bernie Fette is their senior research specialist, and he says that a lot of teens don’t think anything of it. Most teens nowadays start using cell phones way before they’re licensed to drive. So they think they can multitask in any situation, even while driving. Fette says they’ve talked to a lot of kids who say, 'Look, it's not that difficult. I can text with my phone in my pocket – I don’t even have to look at it.' However, being comfortable with technology doesn't mean you’re any safer when you use it in an environment where it creates danger.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 34% of teens regularly text and drive, and more than half of all teens have watched a friend do it, without trying to stop them! The study found that teens are well aware of the risks of driving and texting, but their desire to stay connected to their friends is too strong for them to resist. So what’s the fix? Talk to your kids about the dangers of distracted driving. Research shows that looking away from the road – for as little as three seconds – is the cause of 93% of all crashes. Make your teen sign a contract with you that they will not use their phone while driving, and if you don’t trust them, you can now get a device that’ll disable their phone while the car is running. Some of these services, like ZoomSafer are free and use your phone’s GPS sensors to determine if the person is driving. Another one is called Cellcontrol. It can detect when the car is in motion and will block all incoming phone calls, emails and texts.