It is not uncommon for teenagers to downplay the dangers of driver distractions. Many do so simply due to the fact that they do not have a solid grasp on the risks, or they mistakenly believe they will never become the victim of a distracted driving accident.
No matter how many times a person may hear or see the message of how dangerous it can be to drive while distracted, a verbal or written warning only goes so far. However, real-life demonstrations and actual footage of distracted driving accidents may be the up-close-and-personal approach that gets results.
Through the use of mock collisions, and the analysis of crash videos showing teens driving while distracted, it is hoped that teen drivers will finally become more aware of this very real threat to public health, and reduce the numbers of vehicle accidents causing serious injuries or death.
Staging a mock collision can do far more to help reinforce the message of why drivers need to remain distraction-free at all times, compared to just reiterating a certain message again and again. People need to see first-hand the real dangers and consequences of engaging in distracted driving behavior. Experiencing the devastating impact of this type of accident helps make the message stick.
For example, the Columbia Daily Herald recently reported about a mock collision staged at a Tennessee high school. In this staged event, two badly damaged vehicles were placed as if having collided head-on and come to a rest near the entrance of the student parking lot. One of the vehicles sustained a significant amount of damage, some of which appeared to be caused by a teenage passenger crashing through the windshield and landing partially on the vehicle’s hood. Another individual sat motionless in the driver’s seat. The second vehicle was located only a few feet away.
As students gathered around, emergency responders and police arrived to tend to the victims. When a white sheet was placed over the body of the young man, who apparently crashed through the windshield, it was made clear he did not survive the collision. Fortunately, the accident was not real. It was a mock collision staged as part of the “Be In the Zone – Turn Off Your Phone” program from Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
The impact however, is very real. Some of the students who viewed the mock collision stated they realized this type of situation could happen to anyone and they’d think twice about using a cellphone while driving in the future.
A recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has proven to be quite eye opening. The Foundation reviewed and analyzed 1,700 videos of crashes involving teen drivers to determine what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. A driver safety company furnished the videos that showed real-life events caught on in-vehicle video recording devices. These videos revealed that driver distraction was present in:
The primary distractions in these incidents were found to be:
The study revealed another disturbing fact: In each instance where a crash occurred, the teen driver had his or her eyes off the road for 4.1 out of the 6.0 seconds immediately prior to the accident taking place. In many instances, teen drivers were unable to successfully brake or steer out of harm’s way in time to avoid a rear-end collision.
While these statistics may be surprising to some, CNBC recently reported that driver distraction caused nearly six out of every 10 collisions involving teen drivers who were injured or killed. In fact, federal data shows vehicle-related accidents to be the leading cause of death among teenagers with more than 963,000 teen drivers involved in police-reported accidents in 2013, resulting in 2,865 fatalities and 383,000 injuries.
What these mock collisions and crash videos show is the true danger and consequences of distracted driving. Most people do not realize how long their eyes are off the road or their attention is off the task of driving when responding to a text message, using a hand-held device, or engaging in any other distracting activities.
The official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving estimates that five seconds is the average time a driver’s eyes will be off the road when texting. If traveling at a rate of 55 mph, five seconds is all it takes for a vehicle to travel the length of a football field. When a driver is distracted and not paying attention to the road, it is as if he or she is traveling that distance blindfolded.
Any activity that requires you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your driving for more than two to three seconds is not worth the risk. Do what you can to avoid distractions while driving, and minimize your risk of becoming a distracted driving accident statistic.