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Can Passengers Be a Distraction for Teen Drivers?

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Distraction for teen drivers is a serious problem because it can lead to serious and fatal accidents. The loss of focus can be visual, manual, or cognitive. One might think that cell phones are the only issue, but the culprits are often vehicles’ passengers.

A study sponsored by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed nearly 1,700 videos of teen driver crashes filmed by in-vehicle event recorders. Specific attention was paid to the six seconds leading up to accidents, and it was found that almost 60 percent of the moderate-to-severe ones involved driver distraction. Cell phone use accounted for 12 percent of these, but interacting with at least one passenger caused 15 percent. The other sources of distraction include:

  • Grooming
  • Looking at something else inside or outside the car
  • Reaching for something
  • Singing and moving around to music

Do Ohio Teen Drivers Have Restricted Licenses?

The AAA has encouraged lawmakers to enact state laws restricting passengers to just one non-family member for a new teen driver’s first six months of driving. In Ohio, teens can get probationary licenses when they turn 16 after passing a road test. They can start driving on their own, but only from 12:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m., except for school, work, and a few other exceptions. They are not permitted to use electronic devices while driving, either. As for passengers, they can only have one non-family member passenger until they have had the license for a year or turn 18 – whichever comes first.

Once the teen driver has reached one of those milestones, they cannot drive from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. unless the above exceptions apply. They can have more than one non-family passenger but no more than the number of installed safety belts initially in the vehicle.

How Do Passengers Distract Teen Drivers?

Passengers of any age can distract teen drivers; two examples would be a parent yelling at them or a crying younger sibling. The real issue here is when they drive with their peers, which can increase the chances of risky behaviors. Novice drivers can easily get distracted by boisterous passengers. Teenage drivers are two-and-a-half times more likely to exhibit risky behavior when one passenger is in the vehicle than when driving alone.

How Can These Distractions Be Prevented?

Traffic-related accidents are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities for drivers aged 15 to 20. Teen drivers are less experienced, have undeveloped vehicle control skills, might not be as familiar with following distances, and do not always understand distraction risks. It takes a while to become a competent driver, and this learning phase is the wrong time to drive around groups of friends. When things get out of control, a teen driver can be distracted visually, manually, and cognitively.

Graduated driver licensing with restrictions lets teen drivers get the needed experience while reducing their exposure to potentially hazardous situations. Parents play an even more important role because they can enforce the restrictions and consequences when their teen drivers break the rules.

When a teen gets a probationary license, parents can devise driving agreements before giving their young charges the car keys. These can include strict rules that apply to distraction. If the teen tries to get away with driving around several friends, their driving privileges can be revoked for some time. The same thing can apply when they are out during restricted hours or are found texting and driving.

Our Dayton Car Accident Lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC Help Clients Involved in Teen Driving Crashes

Becoming an experienced driver takes time, and risky behaviors are more likely to cause serious accidents. Contact our Dayton car accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC for a free consultation. Complete our online form today or call 937-222-7477. Located in Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.