BMW’s launch of their “Drive It Home--Don’t Txt & Drive” campaign at a special teen driving school in conjunction with the kickoff of the BMW Championship in Chicago this week highlights the importance of teaching teens how to drive safely and without distractions. And, make no mistake about it, today’s teens are largely very distracted drivers.
Think of today’s teenagers. They’ve grown up attached to cellular devices, Smartphones, Wi-Fi access everywhere. They want to be constantly in the know, texting back and forth to friends, posting images on Facebook and other social networking sites. Unfortunately, such an obsession to being connected isn’t put aside when they get behind the wheel. Something has to change the rampant bad behavior of teens texting and using hand-held cell phones while driving.
Consider the facts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 87 percent of teens say they text while they’re driving. That’s an astounding number. It’s even more frightening when you think of what’s not happening: They’re not paying attention to their driving. And that’s very unsafe. BMW’s Performance Center Director, Dan Gubitosa, said, “If you are on the cell phone or texting while driving, you are not able to anticipate or react intelligently to hazardous situations. Our new campaign on distracted driving creates awareness about the consequences of this action not only for teens but everyone who drives a vehicle.”
Well said, and it’s high time that parents and teens take heed. Of course, it won’t be easy to change behavior that’s become ingrained. Old habits die hard. It is, however, against the law in many states to text and use a hand-held cell phone while driving. Fines may be too modest, but some states are ramping them up, and it shows up on the violator’s driving record. That may ultimately drive up insurance costs. So, there’s an economic inducement as well as the safety issue on the side of raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
One more point worth mentioning is that parents need to set a good example. Too many of us continue to be tethered to our BlackBerry, PDA, and Smartphone. It isn’t just teens. How can we expect our children to give up texting and talking on the cell phone while driving if we don’t curb our own use?
Teens and safe driving. The issue is more important than ever.