Back to school season means more young drivers on the road. New drivers have more temptations to distract them than ever, including cell phones. Young adults and teens have proven to be especially vulnerable to this risky driving behavior.
Texting and Driving Can Be Fatal
Many bad choices and risky habits only affect the person who engages in them. Texting and driving is different. Everyone around the texting driver is in danger, whether it is passengers in that car, nearby vehicles, or pedestrians in the vicinity. According to recent data,
- Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a car accident than drunk driving
- 4,637 people died in car crashes in 2018 due to cell phone use.
It is true that drivers of all ages can be guilty of texting and driving, but young, inexperienced drivers may be most likely to engage in unsafe behaviors. The risk-taking attitude of teens and young adults combined with their lack of driving experience tends to result in a higher likelihood of accidents.
All it Takes is a Few Seconds
According to the advocacy website, Texting and Driving Safety, the minimum amount of time a driver is distracted by a text is five seconds. In that amount of time, at highway speeds, you will travel the length of a football field. Just a few seconds can result in a huge amount of risk.
An infographic on the website provides some frightening statistics regarding texting and teen driving:
- 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
- 55% of young adult drivers claim it is easy to text while they drive
- Teens who text while driving spend approximately 10% of driving time outside of their lane.
If you have a young driver in your family, now is a great time to remind them of what’s at risk with texting and driving.
It is back to school time, so it is a good time to think about safe school season driving. Though school traffic can be frustrating, it is important for everyone’s safety that we exercise patience. We also need to watch for students in school zones who may be excited or distracted as they make their way to and from school.
Time for the Stuck-Behind-a-School-Bus Blues
No driver wants to see a school bus in their path, especially if they are on their way to work. If you find yourself in this frustrating situation, try to keep in mind that students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when traveling in a school bus. The National Safety Council reports that school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation for students.
The council does caution, however, that more children are hurt or killed outside of the bus when they fail to watch where they are going, or when a motorist does not pay attention and illegally passes a stopped school bus.
Keep in mind following points to remind drivers of school traffic safety laws and procedures:
- It is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children in all 50 states. Traffic in both directions is required to stop on undivided roadways when students are being picked up and dropped off.
- State laws vary on divided roadway requirements, however in all cases, vehicles driving behind the bus, and moving in the same direction must stop when the bus does.
- Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate the bus driver is preparing to stop to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals that the bus has stopped and children are exiting or entering the bus.
- A required distance of 10 feet around a school bus must be observed to allow sufficient space for children getting on or off the bus.
- Be on the lookout for children who may run or fail to observe safety rules when moving to and from the bus stop.Never block crosswalks when waiting to turn or when they are stopping for a red light.
- In school zones be alert for warning flashers, and while you are in an active zone, be sure to yield the right-of-way to students crossing in the marked crosswalk.
If your commuting route includes an area with school bus stops, consider ways to help you safely share the road. Listen to music or a podcast to help you exercise patience with frequent stops. Leaving a bit early so you won’t have to stress about delays also helps. Remember, the most important thing is that EVERYONE arrives at their destination safely!