Talking with Teens about Safety

By Debbie Hersman

On Tuesday, I visited a driver’s education class at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.

I had a great conversation with the students about driving and safety and about the NTSB’s growing concern about distracted driving. I told the class about the accidents the NTSB has investigated over the past ten years where distraction — talking on a phone, texting, and being diverted by a laptop — had led to fatal accidents.

The students asked a lot of good questions about our investigations, about how our investigators follow clues, and about our role in improving safety.

In turn, I asked them several questions. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of this group of young people and by what they knew about driving and safety. Yet, the response that really made me pause was when I asked the students whether they had been in a car as a passenger with a parent or other adult who was texting or talking on a cell phone. Every head nodded “yes” vigorously.

Addressing distraction is a challenge. It’s about changing attitudes and changing behavior. That’s why the NTSB is holding a forum on March 27 on “Attentive Driving: Countermeasures for Distraction.”

The forum is free, open to the public, and will be streamed live via webcast. You can find more information at this website.

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