Very few car rides are entirely silent. We’re usually in the car with other people because of carpooling to work or giving our friends and family rides. And when we aren’t alone, we get chatty. It’s natural. Sometimes conversation stays light, other times the car is the perfect opportunity for a meaningful discussion about the future.
When drivers think of a distraction that could potentially lead to an accident, they think of texting while driving or spilling coffee on their laps. They don’t think about chatting with their spouse or kids, or talking with their co-workers on the way to the office. But the truth is that talking with other people in the car can draw your mind away from the task at hand.
It can become particularly dangerous if you’re in a serious conversation while needing to perform difficult driving tasks like merging onto a highway or turning left at a busy, uncontrolled “T” intersection.
The bottom line is that conversation is a distraction.
Adolescent drivers are particularly susceptible to distractions while driving. These novice drivers aren’t experienced enough to know when someone or something is making their attention stray from the road. Younger passengers are less aware of hazards as well, so they’re less likely to stop talking when the driver needs to concentrate. Teens think they’re invincible and can handle multitasking while driving.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found distraction was a greater cause of teen crashes than previously thought. Distraction was a factor in almost 60 percent of moderate-to-severe teen crashes in the study.
Interacting with one or more passengers was the top cause of distraction, causing 15 percent of the crashes. This may surprise people who think cell phone use is the top issue. It came in second during the study, causing 12 percent of the accidents. The next major issues in order were looking at something in the car, looking at something outside, singing or dancing to music, grooming, and reaching for an object.
Illinois is one of 18 states that has passenger restrictions for young drivers. When a 16 or 17-year-old gets their license, they’re probably excited to go out with friends on their own. However, under Illinois law, drivers are restricted to 1 passenger under the age of 20, unless it’s a relative, for the first 12 months of having their license or until the driver turns 18, whichever comes first.
Young drivers may not like the restriction, but the law is there to improve the teen’s and other motorist’s safety. By limiting the number of young passengers they can have in the car, Illinois is purposefully limiting the potential distractions. A car full of teenagers chatting and listening to music is much more likely to get into an accident than an adolescent driver and one friend – though this can still be distracting if the driver isn’t careful.
If you were in a distracted driving accident, contact the legal team at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. right away. An attorney can advise you on your rights, investigate the situation, and help you determine the best course of action to recover for your property damage and injuries.