Tiremaker Bridgestone Americas, Inc., published a report from a recently completed survey of more than 2,000 drivers ages 15 to 21 that indicates these novice vehicle operators feel they are not susceptible to distractions while behind the wheel.
Meawhile, according the the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among 13-19 year-old males and females in the United States, and 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age. NHTSA data also indicates teen drivers or their passengers are about 50 times more at risk of being in a fatal crash on the way to or from school than if they ride a school bus.
More than half of the survey respondents said they recognize that distracted driving is dangerous. Still, time they said they either don't think are prone to being distracted themselves, or they said they believe they take extra precautions to avoid distractions.
“People often believe they drive safely and responsibly, especially our newest drivers," said Angela Patterson, manager of the Teens Drive Smart Program for Bridgestone Americas. “However, we need to reinforce that it only takes one time — one sip of coffee, one change of the radio station, one glimpse at the cell phone — to cause or be involved in a crash that could have dire consequences.”
While many teenagers and young adults claimed they understand the dangers of texting and driving or drinking and driving, according to the survey, they also said they don't see the need to keep two hands on the wheel at all times. For example, the results claim that teens think actions such as reaching with one hand for a drink, food, the radio or a cell phone is not seen as a distraction. Instead, the Bridgestone said teens measure their level of safety as a driver by the fact that they haven’t been in an accident or ticketed — yet.
"Distracted driving is an epidemic on America's roadways, and our youngest drivers are among the most at risk," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in a statement. "I applaud Bridgestone for showing leadership on this issue and encouraging teens to take action against distracted driving.”
Other key findings included:
- One-third of those surveyed admit to reading text messages while driving
- Two-thirds of respondents believe they are “very safe” drivers; but only half of
them say their parents would agree with that assessment
- A quarter of those surveyed do not believe that talking on the phone while
driving is dangerous
- Overall, girls engage in distractions behind the wheel far more than boys
- Teenagers and young adults say their parents engage in distracted driving
more than themselves.
The survey results, part of Bridgestone's teen safety education initiatives, comes on the heels of a relaunch of SchoolBusFacts.com, a partnership between ASBC and NHTSA that disseminates safety stats to the public such as one that indicates teen drivers make up more than half of vehicle accident fatalities during the normal morning and afternoon school commutes.
Bridgestone also announced a safety-themed video contest that seeks submissions from students ages 16 to 21 that encourage other teens to make better decisions behind the wheel. The public will vote on the Top 10 videos via the Internet. The top three vote getters will receive college scholarships of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. The winner will also have his or her video air on the MTV Jumbotron in New York's Times Square this August, and all winners will have the chance to see their videos aired on television as PSAs across that nation.
The survey comes on the heels of a study published by NHTSA that found child passengers in vehicles are less likely to say something to drivers who they observe talking or texting via cell phones or engaging in otherwise distracting behaviors while driving. Meanwhile, NAPT also reminded the industry that school bus drivers are held to higher standards by the public and, as such, should never be texting or talking on phones while driving.