For young drivers, the break from school means more time for fun, friends, driving, and unfortunately, driving distractions such as texting, eating and applying makeup. In fact, crashes and related injuries/fatalities involving teen drivers and passengers are most likely to occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11 percent of drivers ages 15-19 who were involved in a fatal crash were reportedly distracted at the time of the crash. In West Virginia, 232 teen crashes were attributed to distracted driving in 2012, and a total of 1,664 distracted driving crashes for people of all ages in that same year.
That's why the "Decide to Drive" campaign, sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, developed a Wreck-Less Checklist that includes the following tips:
* Before starting your car: Set your phone aside.
* Put on sunglasses and other accessories.
* Fasten your safety belt.
* Move reading material out of reach.
* Pre-load CDs or mp3 playlists and adjust radio volume level.
* Enter an address in the navigation system, or review directions.
* Pull the car over - in a safe area - any time there is a distraction that needs your attention.
* Do not eat or drink, apply makeup, polish your nails or change clothing while driving.
Orthopaedic surgeons put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and trauma. We want teens and parents to know that no text or distraction is worth the life of you or someone you love. This summer, decide to drive!
David Ede, MD
EDITOR's NOTE Dr. Ede is president of the West Virginia Orthopaedic Society.