Driving in the New World

By Kira B.

According to Enddd.org, being distracted behind the wheel is the leading cause of more than 58% of teen car crashes.

In order to avoid distractions, young drivers need to know what exactly to stay away from while operating a motor vehicle.

The first and biggest distraction is your phone. Enddd.org says that, “Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get into an accident than undistracted drivers.” Cell phones are ubiquitous in today’s world.

Emma D., a junior at Duxbury High School, is one of dozens of students learning to drive in the town of Duxbury this fall. She realizes that her phone’s presence can be an unintentional distraction on the road.

“When my phone goes off, it’s kind of an instinct to look,” said Emma, “so having text messages go off can definitely be a distraction while I’m driving, even if I don’t mean for it to be.”

According to Don Dellorco, a Driver’s Education Instructor in Duxbury, the best way to prevent the irresistible urge to look when your phone buzzes is to simply turn it off. Dellorco’s vintage flip phone is almost always turned off while he’s driving, setting a perfect example for his students.

Dellorco said that although he emphasizes the danger of texting while driving, his larger concern lies in the first six months a student has their license.

“The biggest distraction beginner drivers have to avoid is driving with other kids or friends in the car,” said Dellorco. “The six month rule is so important.”

In these first six months, students are supposed to only drive themselves, or close relatives. This rule is broken all the time in high school; teenagers drive friends constantly. Dellorco knows this, but continues his efforts in educating his students on how dangerous and distracting having friends in the car can really be.

Cell phone use and friends are only two of the distractions new drivers have to avoid, but as technology advances, and new laws are passed, more and more distractions for drivers are put on the table.

Vaping and smoking marijuana while driving is also commonly assumed to be dangerous. Studies have been done on the effects of marijuana while driving. Drugabuse.gov, for example, states that, “Several meta-analyses of multiple studies found that the risk of being involved in a crash significantly increased after marijuana use.”

Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. There’s even found to be a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.

The studies have been done, but the message may not be as well known as it needs to be.

The same can’t be said for vaping, however. The phenomenon is so recent and accurate studies on the effects of vaping while driving are not yet conclusive. According to The Boston Globe, even “Long-term safety data on e-cigarettes do not yet exist.”

This issue hits home for high school students, because so many kids juul. Emma D. said that she “would never get in the car with someone who had been drinking.” But when asked about juuling, she couldn’t say the same.

“I’ve been in the car with someone who was juuling,” said Emma, “but I wasn’t scared or anything because it’s such a regular thing to do.”

Life presents many distractions. A person’s bad habit, which may include smoking, texting, or even singing along with the radio, can lead to an accident on the road. New technology and trends could lead to even more distractions in the future.

It’s important for Driver’s Education programs–and students learning to drive–to stay safe on the roads and  continue to change their habits as life creates new distractions.

Image from Gina Manganaro

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