Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens — 16-to-19-year-olds are four times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than 25-to-69-year-olds — so it makes sense to devote a week to a national discussion about safe driving. That’s this week (Oct. 17-23): National Teen Driver Safety Week. And if overall distracted driving rates are any indication, adults could use a refresher course anyway.
This year’s Teen Driver Safety Week theme is distracted driving — taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task at hand for any reason — an increasingly recognized threat to highway safety. Research shows that inexperienced drivers under age 20 are the most likely to have fatal distraction-related accidents. (More on Time.com: Study: Car Crash Rates Increased Despite ‘Texting While Driving’ Bans).
A University of Utah study found that using a cell phone behind the wheel — regardless of whether or not it is hands-free — increases a driver’s reaction time equal to someone with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration, the legal threshold for intoxication.
Teen passengers also increase the risk of distracted driving: one teen in the passenger seat of a young driver’s car doubles the risk of fatal crash, while three or more teen passengers quadruples the risk. (More on Time.com: Why Are Black Bikers More Likely to Die in Crashes than Whites?).
To learn more, see Teen Driver Source — a research tool compiled by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance, the organizations that launched National Teen Driver Safety Week in 2007.
More on Time.com: