Developing teen brains

Marijuana May Hurt Developing Teen Brains

The teen years are important for developing teen brains. Studies show IQ points and cognitive skills are lower for adults who used marijuana as a teen. Read more:

Energy Drinks

Energy Drink Related Emergency Room Visits Double

According to a report released in January 2013 by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, emergency room visits related to the use of so called energy drinks doubled from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011.

We were among the first to write about the issue of energy drinks and their effect on health and driving back in 2009 and have published several articles since but the warning bears repeating.

Energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar and are marketed mostly toward young people as a way to gain energy, stay awake, or lose weight. Energy drinks are unregulated and there are really no limits on how much caffeine can be added to a drink. Continue Reading

Teen DUI

Teen Star Pleads To DUI Charge

Even though she refused to take a sobriety test, former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes was still charged with DUI after sideswiping a patrol car in 2012. As part of a plea agreement, she was sentenced by a California court. Read more: Amanda Bynes: Plea Deal in 2012 Drunk Driving Case

Selfie Photo

“Selfies” While Driving Are Dangerous

With all the discussion about cell phones and texting while driving, we should also talk about the new phenomenon of “selfies.” Selfies are the act of taking self-portraits with cell phones and they are cropping up everywhere. One has only to look at a young person’s Facebook page to see a selfie or two. Selfies of celebrities and politicians are also showing up on Twitter and in newspapers.

Taking a selfie while driving though can be extremely dangerous. Taking a selfie requires that you look at the camera (and not the road) and wait while the camera focuses and snaps the picture. Just the act of setting up the camera on a smart phone to take the picture can take time and distract a driver long enough to lead to a collision.

It’s important to remember how much distance is covered while posing for a selfie. At 45 mph, a car will travel more than 66 feet per second. For a driver looking at the camera and taking a picture, those two to three seconds mean that the vehicle has traveled from 132 to 198 feet. That’s two-thirds the distance of a football field. A lot can happen in that distance and a driver’s attention needs to be on the road ahead.

Along with selfies, taking videos of passengers or objects outside the window can be just as distracting. In a video making the rounds on social media, a mother videoing the actions of her kids in the back seat almost turned a precious moment with her children into a tragedy. The video can be seen at:

Warning! There’s a little bit of foul language in the video.

Reducing teen crash rates

Why Teens are Driving Less

America is notoriously known for its driving culture. This is obvious through our freedom to go where we want when we want to individually pervades our movies, music, food, and nearly every other aspect of our lives. Surprisingly though, the “I want it now” generation has taken the proverbial backseat when it comes to obtaining their licenses. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), teens are driving progressively less each year.

“Vehicles-miles traveled” (VMT) has dropped a great deal in the past year, dropping 25 percent compared to the past year. It seems that energy consumption plays a significant role in this trend, for U.S. energy consumption that fuels cars is expected to drop one-quarter to 12.1 quadrillion btu’s by 2040.

So is this indifference to driving a passing phase, or are we entering the last bastion of American driving culture? With self-driving cars and technological advantages in automobiles on the rise, driving may actually be on its way out.

Causes for Less Driving

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have found that the percentage of young drivers is inversely related to the proportion of Internet users, and those in the “Internet age” are simply driving less. It seems as though social media may take the place of motorized transportation, either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it).

“Virtual contact, through electronic means, reduces the need for actual contact,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor in UMTRI’s human factors group.

Sivak is furthering his theory that international data compiled by the Michigan researchers compiled showing that in countries around the world that higher proportion of Internet users throughout the world leads to lower rates of licensed drivers.

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) disputes this “virtual access” theory. Their analysis demonstrates that U.S. collision insurance policies confirm the trend, showing the 12 percent drop in covered teen drivers since 2006.

“It looks like teens just can’t afford to drive,” said HLDI Vice President Matt Moore. “Paying for their own cars, gas, and insurance is hard if they can’t find a job.”

Choices, Choices

The nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) also feels that something fundamental has changed in how younger people are dealing with transportation.

“Many members of Generation Y have reduced their driving because they choose to take transportation alternatives instead of cars to school, work, and recreation, and because many have chosen to live in ways that require less time behind a card,” PIRG reported. “Growing evidence – both anecdotal and quantitative – suggests that some of this change is being driven by shifts in young people’s priorities and preferences, shifts that could very well persist as Generation Y ages.”

This makes a great deal of sense as car and bike share programs are beginning to pop up in major metropolitan areas. Though theories, these explanations are backed by quantitative data, which is bad news for the automobile industry.