Tag Archives: Young Drivers

Will You Take The Pledge?

by Richard

Oprah has one. Now AT&T has one. Will you sign up?

What’s this dude talking about, I hear you ask. Well, I hear some voices in my head and I’m going to go ahead and just say they’re your voices. Except for the one that tells me to take off all my clothes and run naked through the security screenings at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport. I know who that voice is and I hardly ever listen to him.


I’m talking about the no-text pledge.

There’s a great series of commercials running these days where people hold up signs with a few words printed on them. Those words are what they were reading in a text right before they had an accident, or right before a loved one had an accident. No text is worth it, is the message.

Oprah Winfrey has had a no-text pledge for a while in her no-phone zone. It’s a good idea. I even took the pledge myself in front of my three young dudes and, for the most part, I’ve stuck to it.

In a move mainly designed by PR flacks (the way I see it) AT&T has stepped up and also are asking people to sign their pledge that folks won’t send or read texts while driving. Remember those ads I was talking about up there a bit earlier? Turns out, they’re from AT&T.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, was watching the Olympics with his daughter when she saw it — an ad featuring a man in a wheelchair suffering from a severe brain injury and holding a sign with the text: “Where r.”

“This is the text message that caused the car accident that changed my life forever,” the man said.

According to Stephenson, the ad did its job.

“She said, ‘Dad … that’s heavy’,” he said. “I said, it’s supposed to be heavy. It got your attention and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The ad, from AT&T, is part of the mobile company’s “It Can Wait” campaign. First launched in 2009, the campaign aims to curb texting and driving, especially among young drivers. It will be ramping up between now and September 19, or what the campaign is calling “No Text on Board — Pledge Day.”

AT&T is asking everyone to visit ItCanWait.com before Sept. 19 and sign the pledge. My question is this: Don’t these folks know about International Talk Like A Pirate Day? It’s also on Sept. 19. I hope we can fit in both things. It’s going to be tight, but doable
Moving on.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project,texting while driving increased 50% in one year (2010), when 20% of all drivers admitted to texting or sending an e-mail while driving.

Teens report doing so at more than twice that rate, with 43% admitting to doing so in an AT&T survey.

People texting are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than other drivers, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

So, yeah, I think this is something we can all agree on. No texting while driving. I mean, that’s what the shotgun seat is for.


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Driving While Distracted Still Is Nothing New

by Richard

Before we were so rudely interrupted by taxes, we were talking about distracted driving, the dangers it presents and the fact that it’s something some dudes can’t do anything about.

To make matters worse, the drivers who are most likely to become distracted are those who are new behind the wheel. Like, for instance, young dudes and dudettes who have just turned 16 and now want to get their drive on.

The Jones compound has three dudes with ADD (we’re going with diagnosed here. If we were to look at symptoms, we’d probably see four dudes and one dudette, but that’s another story.), two of whom are old enough to drive. There’s been a marked difference between the driving I’ve seen by Sarcasmo, the elder, and Zippy the Monkey Boy, the middle.

Sarcasmo has been a clear and present danger since he first got his hands on the steering wheel. Not to you, of course. Well, maybe to you. If you’re parked. Seriously. He’s had three accidents in the three years he’s been driving. Each time he’s hit something that was not moving: a tree, a parked car and a mail box. Each time, he was distracted and not paying attention to the road.

Zippy the Monkey Boy had a more serious accident involving another moving car. He was pulling out of a parking lot, looked left, looked right and then pulled out instead of looking left again. Too bad. He turned into a car that had just turned onto his street. More damage, but thankfully no one was hurt.

 In a recent New York Times story, reporter John O’Neil tells readers that Sarcasmo and Zippy the Monkey Boy were not alone in their concerns with driving.

Inexperienced drivers usually are distractible drivers. Dr. Simons-Morton cited a study on a closed course in which teenagers proved much more adept than adults at using cellphones while driving — and missed more stop signs.

The situation isn’t helped by how “noisy” cars have become, with cellphones, iPods and Bluetooth devices, said Lissa Robins Kapust, a social worker and coordinator of a driving program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Driving is so busy on the inside and the outside of the car — it’s the most complex thing we do.”

But A.D.H.D. involves more than distractibility. Its other major trait is impulsiveness, which is often linked to high levels of risk-taking, said Dr. Barkley.

“It’s a bad combination” for young drivers, he said. “They’re more prone to crashes because of inattention, but the reason their crashes are so much worse is because they’re so often speeding.” Many drivers with A.D.H.D. overestimate their skills behind the wheel, Dr. Barkley noted.

Hah! That’s hard to believe, huh? That a young teen dude would think he’s better at driving than he really is. Wow, I’ve never heard of anyone doing something like that.

As a parent, I looked forward to my dudes getting their driver licenses so they could help with the ferrying around town. This, however, along with the accidents, definitely made me second guess that impulse. I think I’m going to have to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last little bit.

I instituted a ride-along policy in which I ride with the young dudes while they drive. I try to keep it calm and respectful. When I’m not screaming for my mommy in a high voice while scratching futilely at the window to get out to safety. I think having a parent along for the ride helps them stay a bit more focused on following the rules of the road, which is always a good thing.

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Driving While Distracted Is Nothing New

by Richard

Driving while distracted can be an even worse idea than having a couple of belts down to the bar and then deciding it would be a good idea to drive home. Of course, for some people, it’s not that they have much of a choice about it.

Some dudes and dudettes don’t have to be texting while driving or talking on the phone while behind the wheel to worry about being distracted. People with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) can be distracted no matter what. And that makes driving, for them, a special challenge.

In a recent New York Times story, reporter John O’Neil talks about the difficulties many teens with ADD have in trying to obtain their license and to drive safely.

The first time Jillian Serpa tried to learn to drive, the family car wound up straddling a creek next to her home in Ringwood, N.J.

Ms. Serpa, then 16, had gotten flustered trying to sort out a rapid string of directions from her father while preparing to back out of their driveway. “There was a lack of communication,” she said. “I stepped on the gas instead of the brake.”

On her second attempt to learn, Ms. Serpa recalled, she “totally freaked out” at a busy intersection. It was four years before she tried driving again. She has made great progress, but so far has still fallen short of her goal: Two weeks ago she knocked over a cone while parallel parking and failed the road test for the fourth time.

Driving is far and away the most dangerous thing most teens will do. Driving will distracted, when there’s very little you can do to prevent it, can be even worse.

A 2007 study, by Russell A. Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina and Daniel J. Cox of the University of Virginia Health System, concluded that young drivers with A.D.H.D. are two to four times as likely as those without the condition to have an accident — meaning that they are at a higher risk of wrecking the car than an adult who is legally drunk.

Researchers say that many teenagers with attention or other learning problems can become good drivers, but not easily or quickly, and that some will be better off not driving till they are older — or not at all.

The most obvious difficulty they face is inattention, the single leading cause of crashes among all drivers, said Bruce Simons-Morton, senior investigator at the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md.

“When a driver takes his eyes off the road for two seconds or more, he’s doubled the risk of a crash,” he said.

There’s more coming on Wednesday. Be back for that, won’t you?


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