Most drivers are guilty of having driven while distracted: adjusting the radio, putting on makeup, eating snacks—even sending a text message or reading. It's dangerous enough when you're a seasoned driver, but even more hazardous when you're an inexperienced teen driver, according to Peggy Conlin, President and CEO of the Ad Coucil. Gayle talks to Peggy about the Ad Council's new Driving While Distracted campaign, which shows the dangers of driving while distracted to young drivers.
Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show that each year, on average, more than 300,000 teenagers are injured in car crashes; nearly 8,000 of them are involved in fatal crashes; and more than 3,500 of them are killed.
Since the Ad Council launched their campaign against drunk driving 25 years ago, Peggy says the number of drunk driving fatalities has decreased by 60 percent across the board. She says the biggest problem today for teens is driving while distracted. "What we see now with distracted driving is that the kids are in some ways showing off for their friends, they're going fast, they're having a party, they're talking, and as a result they just aren't paying attention," she says.
Peggy says that statistics show accidents are more likely to occur when there are other passengers in the vehicle with a distracted driver. She says the campaign is targeted at letting these other passengers know that if they feel uncomfortable, they should trust their instincts and speak up.
The good news, Peggy says, is that research conducted by the Ad Council has shown that 80 percent of teens said they would take their passenger's warnings very seriously, and that they would change their behavior and slow down. Teens reported that one motivating factor was that they didn't want to be known as bad drivers among their circle of friends. "I think that's really important to let other teens know that they're not going to be seen as uncool if they [do] say something," she says.
Peggy says another promising piece of data is that the teens reported they would never purposefully do anything to endanger others. "They feel a little bit invincible themselves," she says, "but when they realize that they might be putting their friends at risk, they really stop short and reconsider their actions."