New Tech Defeats Teen Distracted Driving

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Distracted Driver Texting in Winter
No More Distracted Driving!
Distracted driving is a major problem today for all of us, but it is especially dangerous for teen drivers because statistically, they get into more car accidents than adults. In fact, car crashes are the second leading cause of death for teens in America. According to the CDC, in 2019 nearly 2,400 teens aged 13 to 19 were killed in auto accidents and nearly 258,000 were injured and needed emergency medical care. In recent years, since smartphones are in every teenagers' hands, the vast majority of these accidents are the result of distracted driving. It is far too easy to be distracted by an incoming phone call, a text, a funny gif or an email.

Youth Risk Behavior Study

The risk of a car crash is highest among teens aged 16 to 19. Per mile driven, this group is three times as likely as 20-year-olds to be involved in a fatal auto accident. Inexperience with driving and not using seat belts adds to this problem. In fact, in 2019, nearly half of the fatal crashes involving teens reported that the driver, and in some cases passengers, were not wearing seat belts.
A report called the Youth Risk Behavior study found that among high school teens who drove, 39 percent regularly use their smartphone to text or email while driving. This is made all the worse by the fact that teen drivers 16 to 19 tend to speed far more frequently than older drivers. Speed and texting combined is a dangerous combo.
We know about the problem of distracted driving, but what is the solution? Have teens lock their phones in the glove compartment while operating a vehicle? That's not likely. When your phone rings, you naturally feel pressure to answer it. Likewise, teens say that when they get a text, they are driven to answer it right away. That reaction is part of the cell phone code of conduct. What happens when your phone gets a call or dings to tell you that you've got an email or text? You naturally glance down at your phone… even while driving. Most of us have been guilty of at least talking on the phone while driving.

Fancy Tech

Interestingly, there are a number of tech companies that are coming up with solutions for distracted driving, especially when the cause of the distraction is smartphones. Cell phone blocking technology involves apps that simply prevent calls or texts from happening while you're driving. If the car is moving, your phone is blocked. Some of these apps even let the sender know that you're driving and that you'll get back to them.

Tech that Blocks Tech
From a simple bag to keep your phone in, to apps, to a device that attaches to your windshield, here are some ways to reduce distracted driving by blocking your cell phone signal:
  • Automatic Emergency Braking engages your braking system and can react much faster than you can when it senses a potential collision.
  • Forward Collision Warning sends out a visual or audible alert to let you know when you're about to collide with another car.
  • Lane Departure Warning sends out an alert when your car crosses over the lane markings.
  • Lane Keep Assist can actually move your car back into its lane should you drift across the lane markings.
  • Blind Spot Monitor alerts you when there is a vehicle that is hidden in your car's blind spot.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control can act as a bubble of protection around your vehicle, keeping other cars at a safe distance.

Stay Alert
Remember to read and understand your vehicle's owner's manual so that you can make use these driver assist features properly. While cell phones certainly cause teens and others to be distracted while driving, being tired or sleepy behind the wheel is another major problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, half of all adult drivers report that they drive while feeling tired and 20 percent say they have actually fallen asleep while driving.
It is a big enough problem that some automakers offer monitoring systems to warn you if you are tired or falling asleep at the wheel. The bottom line is that you share a tremendous responsibility when driving a car. When you drive distracted or when you are exhausted, you not only risk your own life, but the lives of everyone on the road with you.
At Lithia Motors we care about you and your safety. Please stay alert and drive safe.