A recent column in the Hartford Courant highlighted the danger that many teen drivers face on the road. Statistics compiled from the University of Connecticut Crash Data Repository showed that more accident injuries were reported from teen driver accidents in June of the span of the study – for 16- to 19-year old drivers, 2012-2014.
But, should the summer months be our only focus of concern?
In short, no.
While the numbers clearly bear out the Courant’s position, June was not nearly head-and-shoulders ahead of every other month of the year. In fact, while June accounted for 858 injuries, May accounted for 837. Additionally, January, July and December were not far behind. The crucial factor to consider, then, is this: teen drivers are at risk due to numerous factors.
Is Distracted Driving To Blame?
Teen drivers will never get the benefit of the doubt from veteran drivers. They will always be seen as too young, too easily distracted, too aggressive or too timid to safely handle a vehicle. While it might seem like an unfair characterization, many teens are simply overwhelmed by the amount of distractions around them. From talking on the phone to talking to passengers to eating to reading email in slow traffic – anything that takes your attention away from the road is, by definition, a distraction. Even a simple action such as selecting a different audio track on an mp3 player can remove cognitive focus from the task at hand.
Since October, 2005, almost 117,000 cell phone and distracted driving citations have been issued in Connecticut by state and local police. It can be argued that cell phone use is the most dangerous distraction because it can remove mental focus, manual control and visual attention from the act of driving. All drivers – teenaged or experienced – should stay focused on the road no matter the duration of the trip or complexity of the path you are taking.