Depending on which age group you fall into, you may have preconceived notions about who you believe the “better” or “more responsible” drivers are. As a younger driver, you assume that elderly drivers are slower, more lackadaisical and prone to cause accidents. As an older driver, you’re sure it’s the younger, less-experienced drivers causing majority of the accidents.

In 2016, there were 364,700 total traffic crashes reported in Tennessee (spanning all age ranges). Just four years before in 2012, there were just over 300,000 total crashes reported. These last few years have seen a scary increase, and it appears to only be getting worse.

Where do the numbers fall?

The highest accident rate and those most likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident are between the ages of 21 – 34. Of the reported crashes in 2016, this age group is responsible for 31 percent of the total number. While younger drivers may have a higher likelihood of getting into an accident, it by no means lets other drivers off the hook. Every age group shows a steady increase in the number of reported traffic accidents over the last several years.

Why are these numbers continuing to rise?

As technology continues to advance, we find ourselves over-stimulated and more distracted while behind the wheel. A simple search for directions, answering a phone call or acknowledging a notification means taking your eyes off the road. Most accidents occur in a split second, glancing however briefly at your phone could mean the difference of being involved with or avoiding a crash.

Is it illegal to talk on the phone while driving?

Tennessee has strict laws against texting and driving but it is still legal for drivers to make or receive calls using hand-held or hands-free devices. Bus drivers or anyone with a learner permit or intermediate driver license are not authorized to use any mobile communication devices while driving.

Pledge to stay safe out there

Just because it’s legal for you to talk on the phone while driving doesn’t make it a good idea. Be mindful of your surroundings and use your best judgment before engaging with whoever is on the other end. If the weather is bad or traffic is crazy, maybe wait and call them back when conditions are calmer. It’s never worth risking your life just to keep up.

Being a licensed driver comes with much responsibility, it goes far beyond obeying traffic laws and driving from point A to point B. As a driver, you have an obligation to ensure your safety and the safety of all other drivers on the road.