RCPD says distracted driving among top reasons for teen crashes

Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 5:28 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Tuesday, a 13-year old driver was behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in a crash that killed nine people in Texas.

That’s just one year younger than the age a teenager can be on the road legally in South Dakota.

Derek Mann, Crash Investigator with the Rapid City Police Department, says 16-percent of vehicle crashes last year in South Dakota involved the 14 to 20 year old crowd.

He says a majority of the crashes happen because of following too close, speeding and especially distracted driving.

77-percent of South Dakota teens say they’re good at texting and driving, and Mann says, ”that is an extremely careless thing to say. They think they can do it. You’re actually distracted. And, you can be distracted from anything from looking down at the floorboard. Looking to grab your cup of coffee or anything like that. Or, even just messing with the radio.”

Mann says that’s why there’s limitations to the number of people young teens can have in their car to limit distraction.

He says when traveling at highway speeds, looking down for several seconds is enough time for a vehicle to travel the distance of a football field.

He says it’s not always the young driver’s fault alone in a crash, as making sure teens are well equipped on the roads falls on the shoulder of the parent and driver’s ed instructor as well.

”It’s a privilege to be able to drive,” explains Mann, “and you look at that and working with the parents and stuff like that. You know, I’ve had parents take the keys away from people. It occasionally will happen, fender benders. My two sons have had fender benders. It’s part of growing up.”

Mann adds that while it’s part of growing up, it’s necessary to keep people as safe as can be. Not just for young drivers, but everyone on the road.

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