Jackson, MS – In a world filled with distractions, the last place a teen needs to find themselves preoccupied is behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) supports Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM) in an effort to warn teens of the dangers that come from being careless while driving.
While cellphone use and impairment caused by drugs and alcohol have been the cause of many driving accidents, these are not the only causes of reckless teenage driving. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute reports that having two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash with a teen at the wheel.
MDOT Safety Education Programs aim at raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving by educating Mississippi’s teenage drivers and their parents. These safety education programs are designed to raise awareness of the three main types of distractions drivers encounter: manual, visual and cognitive.
For instance, research shows that sending or receiving a text- a manual, visual and cognitive distraction- takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this would be equivalent to traveling the length of an entire football field, blind.
At any given daylight moment in the U.S. there are 660,000 drivers manipulating an electronic device while driving. In 2012, an estimated 3,328 people were killed in distraction-related crashes, and another 421,000 were injured. Among drivers 15-19 years old who were involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent were distracted by the use of cell phones.
Another national simulator-based study found that just knowing they are being observed by friends can cause teen drivers to engage in risky driving behaviors. Male teens with passengers were almost six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver and twice as likely to be driving aggressively before crashing as when driving alone.
MDOT has adopted safe driving as a primary focus area because of troubling statistics that name car crashes as the No. 1 cause for teen deaths in the United States. As Global Youth Traffic Safety Month comes to a close, MDOT would like to remind teenage motorists that driving while distracted or impaired is never worth the potential consequences.
For more information about teen driver safety or MDOT’s Safety Education Programs, visit GoMDOT.com/safetyeducation.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is responsible for providing a safe intermodal transportation network that is planned, designed, constructed and maintained in an effective, cost-efficient and environmentally-sensitive manner. MDOT’s objective is to maximize taxpayer’s dollars by providing a safe, efficient multimodal network which enhances economic stability and growth. For more information, visit GoMDOT.com.