National Survey focuses on Teen Driving - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

National survey focuses on teen driving

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Capt. Tom Jackson, Dougherty County Police Department Capt. Tom Jackson, Dougherty County Police Department
Cody Callahan Cody Callahan
Dylan Hughes Dylan Hughes
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Parents may need to work harder to impress the importance of safe driving on their teenagers. A new State Farm Insurance study too many teens continue risky behavior behind the wheel and feel they have no control over whether they get into a wreck.

Driving Distractions can prove fatal in a split second. And while teens know texting behind the wheel is dangerous, the survey found nearly half of teens admit they can't keep away from their phones while driving.

Getting a driver's license is a rite of passage for many American teens. And while the thrill of driving isn't lost on the young generation, many aren't totally focused on the road.

"The new cars that are made, they're actually made with sync things in them. So you can sync your iPods and your cell phones, and your GPS integrated into them. That's just more distractions in a vehicle," said Capt. Tom Jackson, Dougherty County Police Department.

While technology has made cars smarter and safer, it's phones that continue to be one of the number one distractions for young drivers. According to the study 49% of teens admitted to texting behind the wheel. But Jackson says the number could be a lot higher.

 "The majority of wrecks that happen with teenagers is because of driver error. It's basically...it amounts to this. It's error because of their lack of experience. And, I guess the secondary factor in that is the amount of distractions that they have now. Like I said earlier with cell phones and iPods." Jackson said.

 But some teens say they've been taught defensive driving by their parents who discourage distractions behind the wheel. "I usually just turn my radio up or down. I'll call my dad when I'm leaving work. I don't call my friends. I wait till I get home," said 18 year-old Dylan Hughes.

Hughes says he gets nervous around those who text behind the wheel. And he's not alone. "I don't know, I just tell them to watch the road. I don't like it when people drive and text," said Cody Callahan, a 15 year-old with learner's permit. Police say they just want to see young drivers be safe.

 "A lot of us have, you know, children in our house hold and teenagers. We want people be safe on the road way not only for themselves, but for our family members too and theirs. The last thing we ever want to do is knock on someone's door and tell them their young child or teenager has been killed because of someone's reckless acts," said Jackson.

He says drivers need to make a conscious decision to turn off their phones and focus on the road.

Jackson says Georgia's graduated license programs as well as Joshua's law have greatly reduced teen accidents and fatalities. He says requiring teens to drive with family members before allowing other passengers has helped families teach good habits to young drivers.

None of ten teens say they always wear their seat belts and more than three-quarters say they usually carry no more than one passenger in their car at a time.