“People are starting to understand that everyday behaviors, such as texting, eating, applying make-up, or reaching for something, can be lethal when done behind the wheel,” said Dr. Kelly Browning, Executive Director of Impact Teen Drivers. “In a recent study, over 98 percent of people reported that texting behind the wheel is dangerous, but 75 percent still report doing it. The propensity for people to rationalize distracted driving behavior—the ‘not me’ mentality—is a big part of the problem.”
“One of the most difficult tasks for any officer is notifying parents that their teenager was killed in a traffic collision, and it is even worse when the crash was totally preventable,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “Young drivers may not realize the magnitude of the aftermath of a fatal collision, and the emotional toll it takes. It is up to all of us – family, friends, experienced drivers – to set the right example, avoid distractions behind the wheel, and focus on our own driving.”
Research clearly shows that it is the cognitive distraction, not the manual distraction that presents the greatest risk behind the wheel. “We overestimate our abilities to multitask behind the wheel—the reality is our brain is not set up to do multiple tasks at once and do them well,” said Debbie Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council. “A moment of distraction behind the wheel—even one time—can have devastating consequences.”
Impact Teen Drivers uses a multifaceted approach to educate teens and communities about the dangers of reckless and distracted driving. Through the What Do You Consider Lethal? program, teens are engaged and empowered to make good decisions behind the wheel and spread the safe driving message to their peers. In Parent-Teen Workshops, parents are taught that they are the primary influencer of their teen’s driving attitudes and behaviors—and that “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work.
During California Teen Safe Driving Week, law enforcement agencies emphasize the need for a strong combination of education and enforcement to change driving attitudes and behaviors. They also stress that distracted driving injuries and fatalities are 100 percent preventable.
“We need to make distracted driving socially unacceptable, like driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Rhonda Craft, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “By combining education and enforcement to prevent distracted driving, we will make the roads safer for everyone.”
California Teen Safe Driving Week marks the beginning of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.