Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Teenagers’ Brains Not Developed Enough for Safe Driving

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. distraction (n.) – something that takes away a person’s attention from an activity
Example: The non-stop ringing of his mobile phone was a distraction to his driving.

2. steer (v.) – to guide or direct the course of something
Example: The kid steered his bicycle into the garage.

3. fatality (n.) – death resulting from an accident or disaster
Example: Fortunately, there were no fatalities in the reported car crash.

4. newbie (n.) – (informal) someone who is new to something
Example: The newbie still needs guidance from his instructor.

5. emergency (n.) – an unexpected situation that needs immediate action from someone
Example: The teacher brought a first-aid kit during the field trip just in case of an emergency.

Read the text below.

Studies are showing that teenagers naturally have a harder time fighting distractions while driving because parts of their brains are still developing.

Daniel Keating, a researcher and professor from the University of Michigan, said teenagers are still developing the ability to control their attention and emotions during stressful situations.

The scientific explanation behind it is that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls decision-making and behavior, develops slower than the limbic system, or the part of the brain responsible for excitement and satisfaction.

For this reason, teenagers often cannot resist distractions such as using their mobile phones while driving. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, people aged 25 and below are three times more likely than adults to use their mobile phones while steering the wheel.

Keating said distractions such as noise or kids inside the car can also put additional stress on the driving teenager, making him or her less focused. Since teenagers are newbies at driving, they would need much more practice to develop and keep their driving focus.

In 2010, driving distractions caused 3,000 deaths in the US, which is 10% of all car fatalities during that year.

To prevent more deaths, the US government approved a law giving $46-million budget to programs that will reduce people’s risk of driving distractions for the next two years. An additional $27 million will be used to improve driver licensing programs.  One of the rules in the law says young drivers cannot use their cellphones while driving except when there is an emergency.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Can you think of other ways to prevent distractions while driving?
·         Do you think only young people should avoid using cellphones while driving? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Outside of driving, what do you think are the most common distractions among teenagers or among adults?
·         What do you usually do to keep your attention on something?


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