Tag Archives: new driver

Driven From Distraction To Danger

Inexperience added to distraction equals a massively dangerous drive time.

I’m going through my third mind-bending, adrenaline-scarring, foot-stomping, squeal-stuffing, expletive-deleting, smile-faking, terror-strangling trip through driver education just now, which might possibly mean I’m a bit sensitive to this sort of thing.

The thing is, distraction is a huge problem for drivers of all ages, not just the road newbies.

In addition to my oldest young dude, Sarcasmo, I also know a friend my age who, only a few years ago, was looking down at the radio while driving through a parking lot and — with mind distracted — rammed into a parked car. And the strangest thing was that, in both cases, the parked car actually jumped out in front of both drivers.

At least according to their stories. Regardless, allowing yourself to be distracted can be as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after downing a few adult bevies.

Distraction can be even more dangerous than drinking for new drivers because they’ve been told again and again not to drink and drive and, for the most part, they listen to that. How often have you told your young dudette not to look at the radio while driving? Or answer the phone?

There are plenty of new advertising campaigns that warn drivers of the dangers of texting while driving. I know several adults who have listened to that and now will not even read a text while stopped at a red light. I know even more teens who say they don’t, but then respond suspiciously quickly when texted while out.

That, my friends, is plenty dangerous.

An inexperienced driver who reaches for a cellphone increases the risk for a crash by more than 700 percent, a new study found.

Using accelerometers, cameras, global positioning devices and other sensors, researchers studied the driving habits of 42 newly licensed 16- and 17-year-old drivers and 167 adults with more experience. The machines recorded incidents of cellphone use, reaching for objects, sending text messages, adjusting radios and controls, and eating and drinking.

Eating while driving almost tripled the risk of a crash, while texting or looking at something on the side of the road nearly quadrupled that risk.

Distraction is dangerous.

Think of it this way. You’re in a rolling hunk of metal traveling down the road at a high rate of speed. This hunk of metal and plastic now has massive inertia and it’s held to the road by only four small pieces of rotating rubber. That’s it.

If you want to understand inertia, try holding a small weight in your hand and then spinning around. You’ll feel the weight pulling away from your spinning body. Now try to quickly stop spinning, or pull the weight straight up.

That fight against what you’re trying to do? That’s inertia. That’s inertia from a small weight and powered only by your spinning body.

Imagine tons of metal and plastic and glass, moving many, many, many times faster than your spinning body. Changing direction or stopping isn’t so easy with that, is it?

Because of that difficulty, it’s of upmost importance that drivers stay focused on the road ahead, behind and to the side, so they can react as soon as possible and get their vehicle under control.

Getting distracted by a text or a good song on the radio is every driver’s worst enemy because it can happen at any moment and will do so without your knowledge.

According to the study, older drivers only significantly raised their risk of an accident while dialing a phone. Not only that, drivers from every age group already spend 10 percent of their driving time looking at something off the road.

“When young people engage in tasks that take their eyes away from the roadway, they’re increasing their risk dramatically,” said the lead author, Charlie Klauer, a research scientist at Virginia Tech University. “Kids need to have their eyes forward. To add any other distraction into this is really increasing the risk.”

Have a talk with your young dudes and dudettes about driving without distractions today.

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Mall Or Maul?

by Richard

Ah, the mall. Good times, good times. Casting my mind way, way, way, way back to the high school days, I recall fondly my time spent loitering creating havoc attempted arson attempted indecent exposure attempted drunk and disorderly palling around at the Prestonwood Mall.

My high-school chums and I used to cadge rides from parents down to the mall where we’d hang around the entrance, yakking it up (because it’s not like we’d just spent an entire week together at school) and trying to get into trouble (for certain small values of trouble for white, well-off suburban kids) all while looking as cool as possible ’cause that cute girl over there, don’t look, might have glanced in our direction.

All of which goes to show that I realize the mall is a clear and present danger to the American teenager, particularly to the teenaged male.

So, of course, George of the Jungle has discovered the joys of hanging out at the mall with his friends.

The first time he met his friends at the Southpark Mall, he announced it with all the solemnity of a clown college graduate trying to shove a burning cigarette up his nose. To say he was excited would be a bit of an understatement.

To say I panicked would have been a massive understatement. He’s still a new driver (and one I’m genuinely afraid of when he’s on the road) and still goofy as all get out. Not a good combination, to be sure.

I was tempted to do the stalker parent bit, but my trench coat and fedora were at the cleaners and, if you can’t do it in the right costume, there’s really no point to it. Besides, I was going to the movies. Different mall, though. I actually wanted him to feel like he was alone. At least until he found out about the sound and GPS tap on his cell phone. (Kidding. Kidding) (as far as you know)

The good news is that he had a great time and got home safely. The bad news is that I’m going to worry less and less as the days go on until, finally, I’m not worried about it at all. That’s when I’ll get the call from the police about whether or not I know someone named George of the Jungle, who they apprehended while dancing in a soaped-up, bubbled-out mall fountain.

I’ll hang up as quickly as possible.

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License to Kill. . . er. . . Drive

My knees are getting calloused from all the praying I’ve been doing. My oldest little dude just received his learner’s permit. That means he’s legally allowed behind the wheel. The state of North Carolina needs to have its head examined for giving him the license.

Actually, it’s not all that bad. I’m probably more popular with him now than I ever will be again. Now that he can drive with an adult, he wants to come with me on every errand I run. Even if I even think about possibly having an idea that I might conceivably want to maybe go on an errand, he’s ready. Hands out, begging for the keys.

My wife and I have already decided that she will never be in the car when the (not-so) little dude is driving. She has enough trouble sitting still when I’m driving and I’ve had years of experience. The very idea of her trying to sit still and not freak out when our new driver is behind the wheel is enough to cause a busted gut, trying to hold in all the laughter.

My little dude has a license to drive. God help us all.

— Richard

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