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Teen distracted driving often doesn't involve electronics

As a responsible parent with a teen driver, you probably already know the unsettling fact that U.S. teens have more vehicle crashes than any other age group. You may also know the grim statistics that most crashes involving teens (60 percent) are caused by distracted drivers, and 10 percent of teen drivers who are killed on the road were driving distracted.

It's important to understand that distracted driving doesn't just involve electronic devices. Yes, texting, talking on the phone, commenting on Facebook, surfing the internet, watching videos and taking selfies to post on Instagram are popular distractions for teen drivers. However, in many distracted driving crashes, the driver wasn't using any electronics.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the leading cause of distracted driving for teens is their passengers. Distractions caused by others in the vehicle were the single leading cause of accidents involving distracted teen drivers (15 percent). That was higher even than texting, which accounted for 12 percent of distracted teen crashes. Passengers can be particularly distracting if they're rowdy, singing or "dancing" or essentially having a party in the car.

Other non-electronic distractions include grooming (everything from combing hair to applying make-up or drying freshly painted nails) and eating. With drive-thru restaurants and Starbucks on virtually every corner of some neighborhoods, teen drivers often stop for a bite to eat or a drink.

As you educate your son or daughter about the potential dangers of these other distractions, it's essential that they understand the risks of riding in a car with a friend or classmate who's engaging in any of these behaviors and to refrain from creating or being part of a distraction.

If your teen was injured in an accident where he or she was the passenger in a car with a distracted driver or was in a car struck by a distracted driver (whatever the driver's age), it's essential to find out what your legal options are.

Source: The Balance, "Dangers of Distracted Driving: Definition, Stats and Risks for Teens," Mila Araujo, accessed Jan. 04, 2018

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