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Driving-there is a lot going on

For many a parent in the Houston area, their teen's receipt of a driver's license is an occasion of both relief and stress. Relief, in that they can now drive themselves to all those places they need to go, from afterschool sports to friends homes to jobs. The stress comes from know they are driving themselves in the congested Houston traffic, with all the perils that entails.

One of the dangers presented to a teen driver is not knowing what they don't know. Many are filled with the confidence and indestructibility that only youth can possess. And part of that overconfidence stems from simply not having seen enough time behind the wheel to recognize situations where their risk of a car accident moves from potential to very real. 

Last week was National Teen Driver Safety Week, and as a way of concretely showing inexperienced teen drivers just how dangerous distracted driving is, a hands-on driving track was set up in Los Angeles, which allowed them to attempt to deal with distraction while driving in a controlled environment.

The teens drove the course first with no distraction, and were able to focus on avoiding the traffic cones and other obstacles. Then, they drove the course a second time, with "music blaring, passengers hollering, classmates thrusting" cell phones at the driver so he or she could text.

In those conditions, driving was more difficult and one teen described it as "the most horrible experience," and "overwhelming." Perhaps, unwittingly, she got to the important aspect of this when she said, "There was just a lot of stuff going on."

Indeed there is, and all drivers need to keep this in mind. Whether heading to the store for some groceries or across Texas for business or pleasure, remember that few car accidents really are accidents; most are preventable. And you need to be focused on driving to prevent them.

Source: Los Angeles Daily News, "Campaign shows teens costs of distracted driving," Barbara Jones, October 21, 2013

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