Driving while distracted seems to be getting about as much attention these days as driving while drunk. That makes sense because both are inherently dangerous.
Increased popularity of electronic devices such as cell phones and iPods have added to the distractions present in vehicles driven by teenagers. But for the young drivers who are also afflicted with attention deficit disorder, the distractions can prove deadly. More than 26.1 million drivers on America’s roads are ages 16-21, according to www.drivehomesafe.com, a website dedicated to informing teens and their parents about the dangers of distracted driving.
According to USA Weekend, approximately 2 million children have ADHD. Symptoms include inability to pay attention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. When these symptoms are present behind the wheel, the risk of an accident greatly increases. The Weekend also reported that the danger of having an accident quadrupled for those using a cell phone while driving, as found in the New England Journal of Medicine’s 1997 study. Since then, cell phone companies have added features like text messaging and cameras that could easily raise the rate.
Although ADHD may be a contributing factor in car accidents involving teens, it does not mean that those without the disorder are immune from the dangers of driving while distracted. Teenage drivers, as reported by www.drivehomesafe.com, cause 14% of all motor vehicle accidents occurring each year. Speeding, loud music, numerous passengers and alcohol use have all been reasons that teen drivers lose control of their vehicles.
Keep your teen and others safe on the road by adopting family rules on driving. Know where your teen is going and who will be in the car. Have parents and teens sign a family contract listing driving rules and consequences, including zero tolerance for drinking and driving, speeding or non-seatbelt use.