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Don’t Let Your Teen Driver’s Last Words be a Text Message

Teens are one of the most vulnerable segments of our driving population. As new drivers, they do not yet come equipped with the experience that allows older drivers to handle unforeseen situations such as other cars cutting into their lane, unexpected weather conditions, and blow outs. Add all the new ways that teens are using technology, and then mix it with a side of raging hormones, and you have a potential recipe for disaster when a teen gets behind the wheel.

Allstate has been traveling around the country driving that point home to teens with their “Distracted Driving Training Course.” Recently Allstate was here in Atlanta and set up a course outside the Georgia Dome. Atlanta Falcons team President Rich McKay and his 16-year-old son John were on hand along with teens from local schools.

John drove the Distracted Driving Training Course several times with different stimuli present and, along with the other teens, sent orange cones flying willy nilly when exposed to common distractions such as loud music and loud talking. The teens were also asked to send text messages and eat – two very common driving distractions that can lead to accidents, as I have been reporting in recent “texting and driving” segments here on the MLN Law Blog.

John McKay told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “They’ve made me text, eat, turn the music all the way up, had people screaming in the car. They’ve thrown a lot at me and it’s been tough.”
After the event was over and the teens had, like John, realized the danger of distracted driving, they were asked to sign a parent-teen driving contract. The contract designated certain punishments for various dangerous driving habits such as driving without a seatbelt, speeding, talking on a cell phone and other potentially hazardous violations.

The AJC also reported on a recent study stating that 80% of all crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of the accident. “I wasn’t paying attention” is never a good excuse when it comes to operating heavy machinery, though a teen’s life is filled with distractions such as horseplay from friends, dialing the phone or applying makeup.

Allstate also recently came out with a study pinpointing the ten hotspots where fatal teen accidents are most likely to occur. Shockingly, eight of the ten were located in the southeastern United States. Here’s the breakdown:

1. Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Fla.

2. Orlando/Kissimmee, Fla.

3. Jacksonville, Fla.

4. Nashville, Tenn.

5. Birmingham, Ala.

6. Phoenix, Ariz.

7. Kansas City, Mo. (and Kan.)

8. Atlanta, Ga.

9. Charlotte, N.C.

10. Louisville, Ky.

The results of this study persuaded Allstate to kick off their “Action Against Distraction” campaign. Allstate will also visit 41 other locations around the country with their “Distracted Driving Training Course.”

If your teen wasn’t fortunate enough to participate in the recent Allstate “Distracted Driving Training Course,” talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving. Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States. Don’t let your child’s last words be a text message.