In 2013, 2,927 people died in car accidents caused by teen drivers. In a recent story published on CNN.com, seven out of every 10 teenage drivers admitted that they think it is acceptable to use their smartphones while they are driving. Perhaps an even more disturbing statistic is the fact that only six percent of all teenage drivers think that posting something to a social media website while driving is a distraction.
Apps Causing Distraction
It is said that the ages of 16 and 17 are the toughest for teen drivers because they are just getting used to how everything on the road works. It is estimated that one out of every four teens in the United States will get into car accidents of some sort, but not every accident will be fatal.
In the days before smartphones, it was drunk driving and driving at night that caused most of the teen driving problems. It now looks like the growing number of phone apps is taking over as the key component of distracted driving.
Pokémon Go And Snapchat Causing Distractions
In the early part of the summer of 2016, the game app called Pokémon Go was released and the stories of distracted driving started pouring in. The difficult part about tracking distracted driving statistics due to phone apps is that most people are not going to admit that they were on their phone when they crashed. That does not stop teen drivers from causing car accidents because of distracted driving.
Before Pokémon Go was released, DistractedDriverAccidents.com found that Snapchat was the most popular app for teens to use while driving. One of the reasons Snapchat is so popular is that it has a feature where an image has to be viewed within 10 seconds of being posted or it can never be viewed again. Teens are opting to look at their phones instead of the road, and 10 seconds can be an eternity when someone is driving.
Encouraging Responsible Driving
Parents can only do so much when it comes to responsible driving, but the habit of not looking at gaming apps while driving does start at home. Parents need to encourage responsible behavior in their children. The can even go as far as to remind children of the consequences of distracted driving. Parents can also set an example for their children by not using their own smartphones while they are driving, which is becoming a growing problem among adults as well.
Passengers And Apps Can Create More Problems
According to an article in the New York Times, boys are more likely to be distracted when they have boy passengers. The incidents of car accidents with teen boys behind the wheel go down when there are female passengers. Still, passengers pose a threat that could be beyond what gaming apps pose. It is estimated that a teen is 44 percent more likely to have a car accident when they have one non-family passenger in the car with them. That number is compounded if the teen has access to a smartphone with apps. Parents need to consider all of the potential distractions to their teen when they get behind the wheel and make the appropriate rules to protect their teen.
The Era Of Pokémon Go We Live In
USA Today tells the story of a driver in Baltimore who slammed his car into a police car while driving and playing Pokemon Go. Baltimore police indicate that teens are having their smartphones stolen right out of their hands while playing Pokémon Go. Complete absorption in the game can lead to a lack of awareness of anything else around.
When you stop to realize that teens can get so distracted playing a game app that they can have their phones stolen out of their hands, you can realize the problems with distracted driving. Before, the distraction used to be Snapchat, and now it is Pokémon Go.
Every year, thousands of people die due to teenage distracted driving. The challenges of being a teenage driver are strong enough, but using game apps only adds to the problem. It is hard to put a finger on a solution because teenagers insist that using their phones while driving is not a distraction. Unfortunately for some teens, it takes a fatal accident to realize just how dangerous the distracted driving trend has become.