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The risks are especially high for new, inexperienced drivers.
Good article and well stated truths from an inside witness to current teen culture!
Give me a break. There have always been "distractions" in an automobile: the radio and any number of gauges come to mind, to say nothing of cell phones and passengers. What Mr Smith and anyone else who steps behind the wheel has to realize is that driving is both a privilege and a responsibility. You are operating several thousand pounds of plastic, glass and metal when you drive. Your focus should be just on driving. If it is, you're doing your part.
This was a nice piece and it's great to see this teen is aware of the potential dangers posed by distracted driving. But I have to point out that car makers do offer "two models" of the same car. Most of those gadgets are "extra" and buyers have the option to not have them included when they purchase the vehicle. And while technology can increase the level of distraction in some cases, it can also limit it, if used properly. One example is a phone app that disengages the phone when a car is started. And voice-activated song choosing is less distracting than fingering the dial on the dashboard for several minutes while searching through the tracks.
Car manufacturers aren't the problem. Parents need to be mindful of these innovations when purchasing vehicles for their teens and opt for the factory standard model without all the bells and whistles. They also need to instill good driving habits in their children (by being good role models themselves).
I commend Mr. Smith for his maturity. True, distracted driving and the gadgets that facilitate it have been around since the automobile's inception. However, I believe what Mr. Smith is trying to say is that the number of gadgets, specifically gadgets aimed at the teenage population like Pandora, has drastically increased. Subsequently, teenagers who ought to be slowly removing their "training wheels" through driving instruction and monitored practice, become kids in a candy shop prone to distraction from every angle. It is also important to note that many of these gadgets are options, purchased by the buyer at their will. Again I would point out that the number of standard "baseline" gadgets included in the factory model has risen drastically as well.
As a private pilot one of the first things--and probably one of the most important things--I learned was to never "get behind the airplane". In other words, when flying an airplane your first duty is to FLY the airplane. Fiddling with the radio, setting up a VOR waypoint or folding and unfolding a chart are all fine if there's a lot of sky around you and space under you, but doing these things when close to the ground or in traffic, especially if you're inexperienced, can ruin your whole day right quick. Mr. Smith's article points out the same thing, more or less, for drivers. If you're driving a car, then DRIVE the car. We all have seen numerous instances on our freeways of drivers yakking on cellphones, leaning over to grab something off the seat, and doing countless other things that takes their attention off the task of driving when going and surrounded by other vehicles going in excess of 100 feet per second. Mr. Smith is wise beyond his years. I commend him for that.
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