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Cellphones not the only cause of distracted driving

A new study suggests that while teen drivers understand the dangerous distraction that using a cellphone to talk or text while driving poses, they might need more reminders about other forms of distractions while driving.

The study was discussed at the recent Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium, which included both educators and transportation professionals from five universities.

Overall, the study revealed that cellphone-use among teens while driving is down, but other forms of distraction remain a problem.

Some of the other forms of distraction include eating, changing the radio, day dreaming, putting on makeup, using hand-held navigation systems and even doing homework and changing clothes.

An associate professor of transportation and engineering at Oregon State University said that while talking and texting while driving is certainly a problem to highlight, teens also need to be reminded of the other forms of distraction that jeopardize safety.

“Every time we make a choice to do something other than drive our vehicle, we are potentially impacting our performance and that is something that needs to be talked about more,” he said.

Currently, most of the messages that teens and other drivers are getting about distracted driving have to do with texting and talking on cellphones, but it was suggested that other distractions should be included in the message as well.

“It comes down to correctly perceiving the risks while driving,” the associate professor said. “These results show that we are aware of the impact of mobile devices on distracted driving, but we are not as aware of all the other types of distraction.”

With that said, if you have a teenage driver at home, remind him or her that staying off the cellphone is one way to avoid distractions while driving; however, even acts as simple as changing the radio can threaten safety.

Ultimately, as the associate professor said, any time your focus is away from the road you risk an accident, and that is something that drivers of all ages need to acknowledge.

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