‘Driving distracted’ isn’t socially accepted among peers

Commentary by Brittany Carter
Times-News correspondent

   “Distracted driving” — how can a phrase carrying two simple words carry such heavy connotations?
In this media-obsessed day and age, it seems that everyone, specifically and especially teens, are unwilling to disconnect from social media sites for one minute, let alone the time it takes to drive from one destination to the next.
Unfortunately, (as has been demonstrated time and time again), this preoccupation with social media, such as social networking and (dare I say) texting, while driving has yielded tragic and all too often fatal results. However, this is a trend that may soon be on the path to extinction and good riddance.
As recent results from the “2013 Teen Driver Survey” conducted by Bridgestone Americas with the aid of the Department of Transportation suggest, teens are more often than ever before making attempts to drive without distractions.
“This year’s data managed to capture an attitude that hasn’t been articulated in other teen driver research before — teens are changing their driving behavior in front of their peers because it’s not socially acceptable to drive distracted. Results show social messages and pressures of dangers are causing teens to engage less when with friends and parents,” said Claire Stephens with Bridgestone Americas.
   Trends from the survey suggest:
—Ninety-five percent of teens admit to reading texts and emails while driving alone, while only 32 percent will partake in the activity when in the company of friends (quite a difference than when driving alone). Additionally, only 7 percent admit to reading texts and emails while driving with their parents in the car.
—Similarly, 90 percent of teens openly admit to posting to social media cites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) while behind the wheel versus 29 percent posting with friends in the car versus 5 percent with parents in the car.
—Keeping with trends, 75 percent of teens admit to watching a video while alone, 45 percent will do so while in the company of friends, and only 7 percent with parents for passengers.
While this behavior is not yet completely eradicated, the fight against distracted teen driving is looking on the up-and-up because the percentage of driving while distracted is on the down. Hopefully this is one trend that will last, and this is why groups like Bridgestone Americas are educating teens about the importance of safe teen driving in new and exciting ways, such as video contests and the aforementioned survey.
Check out Bridgewater Americas video contest on the Web at www.teensdrivesmart.com/index.php/Video-contest/ for more information regarding the importance of safe teen driving.
Distractions such as texting and social media can wait, because after all, is not your life and the life of your fellow drivers on the road worth more than answering a text or a status update?

Brittany Carter is a rising junior at UNC-Chapel Hill and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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