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You're doing what behind the wheel? A new look at distraction

Getting your driver's license is a right of passage for a lot of teenagers here in California as well as across the nation. Being able to drive yourself places means more independence and a sense of freedom. But as so many seasoned drivers know, getting behind the wheel of a car comes with a lot of responsibility too. Not only are you responsible for yourself and the people in your own vehicle, but you are also responsible for making decisions that don't put the lives around you at risk of injury or death.

Several national campaigns focused at teens have been trying to address this fact by pointing out the dangers of cellphone use while driving. According to an assistant professor of transportation by the name of David Hurwitz, these campaigns have been largely successful. Surveys conducted among teen drivers suggest that fewer teens are texting and driving now than they have in the past. But as a recent NPR article points out, texting isn't the only distraction teens face behind the wheel.

Responses from a study conducted by Oregon State University revealed that teens can get distracted by the same things that adult drivers can be distracted by such as adjusting GPS navigation, changing the radio station or even talking to a passenger. But the study also discovered some reckless behaviors that could also add to the distraction factor such as putting on make-up, doing homework and even changing clothing and shoes while driving.

"We were pretty surprised at the changing clothes bit," mused Hurwitz who led the study. For our California readers, this study should confirm an alarming fact: even though participation in texting and driving may be down, teens are still doing things that can lead to distracted driving accidents. This suggests then that the next national campaign shouldn't just focus on texting and driving but distracted driving as a whole. Perhaps then we will see the marked decline in distracted driving cases we're all hoping for.

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