Fall has officially begun—leaves are changing color, people are breaking out their winter clothes and teens across the country are gearing up for their upcoming break from school. Many teens and young adults will be spending their time off traveling, either headed back home from college or just simply hanging out with friends. With all this time off, there will be more young drivers behind the wheel. National Teen Driver Safety Week, which takes place from October 16-22, is the perfect opportunity to teach young drivers the importance of safe driving before they actually hit the roads.
EndDD.org held a teen video contest in honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week that addressed the issue of distracted driving among friends. Ben Cerauli, a sophomore in high school, was chosen as the winner for his video submission that features the story of a little brother who stops his older brother from driving while distracted. In the one minute video, it is the younger sibling that acts as the superhero, speaking up and confronting his older brother of his risky driving habits. The clip reminds us that even those who don’t drive can help keep those we love safe, as long as we are brave enough to speak up and say something.
This concept was inspired by Cerauli’s own experiences as an older sibling. “As an older brother myself, I’ve learned right away that an older [sibling] is, even compared to someone’s parents, someone that [younger siblings] really look up to, Cerauli said. “I wanted to portray that idea in the video because if we are gonna try and get this message out, it is important to not just be telling it to the people who are learning to drive, but also the people who are going to be driving.”
Cerauli’s motivation to participate in the contest spurred from his passion to educate others about the importance of safe driving. “I think it is a really important message,” Cerauli explained of distracted driving, especially among teenagers. “I thought [the contest] was a great way to spread the word about [distracted driving], Cerauli said. He believed that by using video as the medium of communication, more teens would be inclined to listen and pay attention to the message the video was trying to convey.
Distraction.gov, the official U.S government website for distracted driving, defines the act as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” These activities can range from the obvious such as texting or talking on the phone, to the not as obvious actions like changing the radio station or talking to a passenger.
Although Cerauli himself is too young to drive, he has had experience with friends driving distracted and recognizes the immense danger it poses. “It’s funny seeing how different drivers act. I don’t know… [there are] certain things that I never really noticed until after seeing the [EndDD] presentation,” Cerauli commented.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S teens. With the massive popularity of cell phones among teens, distracted driving is now considered to be the cause of over 50% of teenage crashes, with the percentage growing each year.
When caught in a situation where the driver of the car is distracted, Cerauli feels comfortable enough to confront the driver to not only protect those present in the car, but ensure the safety of others on the road with them. “I say things, especially to my parents, when I notice things,” he said. “Distracted driving [happens] across the board,” Cerauli said. “It’s definitely everyone.” It’s up to us to put an end to distracted driving, by both practicing safe driving habits ourselves and reminding those around us to stay safe. Bystander intervention is such an important aspect of preventing distracted driving—when reminded in a nonconfrontational, caring manner by our friends and loved ones that our actions are dangerous, the sentiment is more likely to be well received and leads to safer driving habits in the future.