Every year more than 4000 teens are killed in traffic collisions. About 60% of these deaths involve a passenger and nearly half result from someone not using their seatbelt. More than 400,000 are injured. This is the #1 cause of death among teens. If you could stop these deaths from happening would you?
For the past 30 plus years, we have been teaching students to buckle up as soon as they get in a vehicle. Today, you can ask toddlers through senior citizens what’s the first thing to do when they get in the car. They will almost all say “Buckle Up.” Everyone knows driving distracted is stupid and wrong but we haven’t begun practicing putting away distractions as soon as we get in a vehicle. We can prevent nearly 4000 teen deaths a year if we buckle up and put away distractions.
So what is driving distracted? It is anything that takes our eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and/or mind off driving. Some of the ways I have observed people driving distracted include: using their cell phone to talk, text or using other functions available, putting on makeup, shaving, eating, drinking, reading a newspaper or tablet, watching videos, reaching for objects, turning to talk to passengers, using a laptop, and even changing their clothes. Some people think using a hands free device is not a distraction but it is because it takes your mind off the road and your surroundings.
In Arizona, a teen under the age of 18 must get an Instructional Permit for at least 6 months before they get their license. They can get their permit at 15 years and 6 months of age. During this permit time, they have to have a licensed driver over 21 with tbem. They need to have a total of 30 supervised driving hours before they can get their license (at age 16). Once the driver completes their permit phase, they can take their driving test for the class G license. The first 6 months of this license has restrictions: only one child that is not a sibling can be in the vehicle, students cannot be out between 12 AM and 5 AM unless driving from a school function, church, or work, drivers cannot use a hands free device during the first six months having a Class G license unless it is an emergency. These restrictions are in place so the new drivers can give their complete attention to driving. Although the restrictions eventually are lifted, the risk associated with driving do not decrease, therefore we need to encourage all drivers to put away ALL their distractions. Visit Azdot.gov for more information.
We can’t prevent cancer, diseases or illnesses from taking a young person; nor can we prevent acts of God such as weather related deaths; nor can we prevent wild animal attacks (shark, mountain lions,etc), But we CAN PREVENT the #1 killer of our teens DISTRACTED DRIVING.
Visit Createrealimpact.com for scholarship opportunities for students 14 – 22. This scholarship is available twice a year.
You can learn more about Distracted Driving Awareness by visiting:
The Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation (Previously the Tucson Police Foundation) START program is available in Tucson for new drivers. Visit their website for more information. State Farm Insurance offers a new driver program called Steer Clear.
Thus information was provided by Kevin McNichols. Mr. McNichols is an instructor for Impact Teen Drivers. He retired ad a Sergeant from the Arizona Department of Public Safety in 2018. Prior to working with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, he was a Deputy and School Resource Officer with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and a Recreation Coordinator with the City of Kingman.