Distracted, Drunk & Drugged Driving

What Is Distracted Driving?

Almost 6,000 people die each year due to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, states the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,

Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Their lack of driving experience can contribute to critical misjudgments if they become distracted. Not surprisingly, they text more than any other age group. 

Texting is the most alarming because it involves visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study revealed that physically dialing a phone while driving increases the risk of a crash as much as six times, and texting is riskier still, increasing the collision risk by 23 times.

What Parents Can Do

  • Know and enforce the law.
    Virginia law prohibits drivers under age 18 from using a cell phone or any other wireless telecommunications device, regardless of whether such device is or is not hand-held. Teens under 18 may only use a cell phone or any other telecommunications device for a driver emergency or when the vehicle is lawfully parked or stopped.
  • Educate yourself and your teen.
    There are a number of excellent web sites listed below that provide information about how deadly distracted driving (see below).
  • Set a good example.
    Kids learn from their parents. Put down your phone while driving and only use it when you’ve safely pulled off the road.
  • Talk to your teen.
    Discuss the risks and responsibilities of driving, and the danger of dividing their attention between a cell
    phone and the road. Show them the statistics related to distracted driving. And urge them to talk to others;
    friends take care of friends.
  • Sign a contract with your teen. 
    Have your teen take action by agreeing to a family contract about wearing safety belts and not speeding, driving after drinking, or using a cell phone behind the wheel. Agree on penalties for violating the pledge, including paying for tickets or loss of driving privileges.
  • Spread the word.
    Get involved in educating and promoting safe driving in your community through programs such as Partners for Safe Teen Driving and through online social-media websites.


Drunk and Drugged Driving

Despite how parents may feel sometimes, research shows that parents are an important influence on whether or not teens choose to drink alcohol or use drugs. Teens do care about their parent’s opinions

Teens who drink alcohol and drive will lose their driver's license for a year and receive either a $500 minimum fine or 50 hours of community service. The law provides a “zero tolerance'” stance against underage drinking and driving, said Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. Zero tolerance means the legal limit for teens is a .02 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the normal alcohol content of the average person. Even a small amount of alcohol can result in a conviction.

"Unfortunately, teens are one of the highest risk populations on our roadways," Holcomb said. "Despite meaningful efforts to curb underage drinking and driving, it still remains a significant problem." In 2010, 1,285 drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 were convicted of drunk driving in Virginia, and most were 18 to 20 years old.

Links

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html

Distraction.gov
http://www.distraction.gov/

Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
http://www.madd.org/underage-drinking/