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What is really distracting teen drivers?

The fact that many American teens tend to drive while distracted is common knowledge. What is less understood is exactly what teens are distracted by when they are behind the wheel. Certainly, many teens are distracted by phones and other portable electronic devices. Others are distracted by technology built into the dashboards of the vehicles they drive. However, electronic technology is not the only influence distracting inexperienced motorists on American roads.

According to a study led by a professor of transportation engineering employed at Oregon State University, teen drivers are often distracted by a host of surprising influences when they are supposed to be focused on operating their vehicles. For example, more than 25 percent of teens admit to changing their shoes and other items of clothing while driving.

While slipping off a backless sandal or flip-flop shoe may not be cause for alarm, other behaviors certainly are. Many teens readily admit that they do homework while driving and apply makeup while behind the wheel. Shockingly, many teens even change their contact lenses while driving. If this behavior is not cause for alarm, one has to question what behavior would be.

It is unclear whether teens simply fail to appreciate the significant risk they place themselves and others at while engaging in distracted driving behaviors or if they are simply so pressured to remain “busy” at all times that they feel that they are compelled to behave in these ways. Whatever the influence may be, the distracted driving behaviors of many American teens are now urgent matters of public safety.

Source: NPR, “Teens Say They Change Clothes And Do Homework While Driving,” Maanvi Singh, March 18, 2015

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