It’s a milestone every teen dreams of: That highly anticipated moment when they get their driver’s license. But while a license brings thoughts of freedom and the open road, it can also be dangerous for teens who don’t have good driving habits. In New Jersey, a teen crashes every 11 minutes — and distracted driving plays a large role in those accidents.
So what can be done to keep teens safe — and paying attention — on the road? Steve Adubato, PhD., sat down with Mike Van Wagner from NJM Insurance Company, Wendy Berk from the Brain Injury Alliance of NJ, Mike Sandor from Summit High School and Jazmin Bolivar from Summit Safety Society in this edition of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato to discuss some tips to keep teens focused when they’re behind the wheel.
Part of the problem is that teens are mimicking bad driving habits from adults. Says Berk: “As soon as we turn that car seat around, your child is watching you and they’re watching everything that you do. It’s so important to practice safe driving behaviors because our children will follow us.”
That means putting down the smartphone and not texting when you’re behind the wheel — because you’re giving your teen permission to do the same by proxy. And while there have always been distractions (such as the radio), the unique nature of texting makes it such a dangerous behind-the-wheel activity.
“The use of cell phones today, it’s second nature,” says Van Wagner. “It’s habit. The phone rings, the texts buzz, you pick it up.”
He adds: “You have to work that much harder to resist.”
“Taking your eyes off the road, just for that fraction of second, could be the difference in getting into an accident,” says Sandor. “It takes concentration to drive.”
And texting isn’t the only distraction that can contribute to a crash. The radio (yes, the radio) can distract a driver — and additional passengers in the car ranks as one of the biggest teen distractions.
For info on programs aimed to keep teens safe while they’re driving — and the good news about teens and drunk driving — don’t miss this edition of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato.
For more stories that impact New Jersey residents, click over to our Hot Topics in NJ series.
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