A University of Iowa study reports the most frequent cause of vehicle crashes involving teenagers is distracted driving, especially when there are other teens on board.

In a nationwide analysis of accidents involving teen drivers, it was discovered that in 60 percent of those accidents the driver was distracted by either chatting, looking at other passengers in the vehicle, texting, or talking just seconds before the crash occurred. The study was an in-depth look into the actual cause of the crashes involving teenagers.

The report highlights the fact teen passengers can become a big distraction to teen drivers and the best solution is to reduce the number of teen passengers. In Jan 1, 2014 the state of Iowa enacted a law whereby for the first 6 months after receiving an intermediate license, a teen driver could have no more than 1 teen passenger, other than a family member. Parents have the option to opt their teen out of the law, and of the 61,029 intermediate licenses issued, 87% or 52,773 licenses had the restriction waived.

The state is considering removing the parent opt-out option from the passenger restriction law, but they also encourage parents to have conversations about teen passengers, the need to put away cell phones while driving and to pay attention to what is happening outside of the vehicle instead of what is happening inside of it.

Another option being considered by the state is a stronger no texting while driving law. Currently in Iowa texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning only adults can be cited as long as they were pulled over for another offense. For teenagers, the use of a cell phone or texting is considered a primary offense, but enforcement is not easy because officers cannot always distinguish if a person is a teen or adult driver.

Continuously educating teens of the dangers of distracted driving is a powerful tool. An Iowa high school’s prom and post prom committee staged a mock accident using two vehicles that were involved in real crashes. The high school students sat on bleachers as participants from Fire, Police, Emergency Medical and even a transport medical helicopter re-enacted a drunk driving accident, whereby the jaws of life were used to extract a passenger, a bloody student was placed in a body bag, another was carted off to the helicopter and the teen posing as a drunk driver was handcuffed and led away. Many teens walked away understanding they are not invincible.

Behind the wheel safety though first begins with proper Teen Driver Education. Pacific Driver Education is both Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) certified. The Teen Driver Education course is ODOT approved and a major portion of our Portland driving school. It is a nationally recognized program that has been shown to dramatically reduce the likelihood of young drivers being involved in fatal and injury accidents. Since the ODOT program began, the number of fatal and injury crashes in Oregon involving 16 year old drivers has dropped from a high of 1195 in 1998 to just over 400 in 2009. The combination of extremely high standards of teaching with commitment by teens and their parents have the reason behind the resulting achievement. The course consists of classroom instruction, behind the wheel instruction and parent involvement. You can take the course over the summer-become a proud alumni of our Beaverton driving school.

Teens are not the only distracted drivers. Adults get distracted too, especially with our busy lives today. Pacific Driver Education also offers adult driver educationFor teens or adults attending class  in the Portland driving school,  whether in group or private lessons , they will always be better drivers when they are done.