Learn about how watching movies with reckless driving affects teens in real life.
One of the pleasures of action movies Is watching car chases, but very few people actually stop to think how that kind of reckless driving on the silver screen can influence teenagers in their real behavior when they are behind the wheel.
In fact, studies have found that some of the crazy driving feats that young drivers see in films, may make them more likely to drive recklessly.
“It’s the same debate that once raged about the effects that violent video games may have had on teenagers in real life,” stated Attorney Amy Witherite, partner of the law firm Eberstein Witherite, LLP. “Is it more likely that teenagers who are reckless drivers are more attracted to movies that depict reckless driving, or does watching reckless driving at the movies spur teenagers to more dangerous driving behavior?”
According to a report by Geico, 20 percent of 16-year-old drivers in their first year of driving have had a car wreck. Furthermore, 33 percent of all fatal accidents involving teenagers were caused by speed. (1)
And Teen Driver Source reported that 16 to 19 year-old drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than drivers who are 20 years or older, and that 75 percent of car wrecks involving teens are the result of speed, driver distraction, and “the lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards.” (2)
What Exactly Is Reckless Driving?
Although each state has its own specific definition, reckless driving is any type of behavior that creates a hazard for other drivers on the road.
In Texas, reckless driving is categorized as, “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” (3)
This is a large umbrella term, under which you can fit speeding, unsafe lane changes, drag racing, racing other vehicles, and racing through red lights.
It’s important to remember, however, that charging someone with reckless driving is most often a judgment call exercised by law enforcement personnel.
Therefore, a driving behavior such as speeding is not always going to be considered reckless driving. To reach that standard, the speed at which a person was traveling would have to greatly exceed the speed limit. For example, a teenager driving a sports car at 75 mph on a road with a speed limit of 45 mph, would likely be charged with reckless driving by most police officers.
But it’s this discretion that has given certain states, such as Texas, the reputation of being lax on reckless driving.
A report in the Star-Telegram cited a recent study which found that Texas ranked first as the “most lenient among all 50 states and the District of Columbia when it comes to passing laws against speeding and reckless driving, and punishing violators.” (4)
Reasons for this include the fact that Texas has no specific speed that is defined as reckless driving, does not have a state law against street racing, nor does it stipulate minimum jail sentences or license revocation for first-time reckless driving offenders.
So Do Movies Cause Reckless Driving?
There have been many studies about reckless driving among teens, but a recent study published in the journal PLOS One, took a different angle and surveyed 1,630 teens ages 10 to 14 about the number of movies they watched that included reckless driving.
Six years later, when those teens became drivers, they were surveyed again about their driving behavior.
A majority of those surveyed who had watched more movies that featured reckless driving, “reported lower seat belt usage and more reckless driving, [and] exposure to movie reckless driving during early adolescence predicted adolescents’ reckless driving, suggesting a direct modeling effect.” (5)
Caution is in order, given that this was just one study, but because young drivers are so much more likely to speed and exhibit driver distraction than other groups, the effect on their psyche of fast cars doing furious things in movies, deserves more exploration.
Recovery Is About More Than Just a Settlement in a Motor Vehicle Accident
The consequences of reckless driving can be life changing and devastating. It is important that we educate teen drivers about the dangers of excessive speed, especially since car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. The aftermath of a high-speed car crash can linger long after your case has settled. That’s why the team at 1-800-CAR-WRECK ® strives to do all the things necessary to keep your life running after an accident.
“We have two primary goals when we take on a client who has suffered injuries in a car wreck,” stated Amy Witherite. “One, get them back on their feet, physically and mentally, and two, make sure every aspect of their lives keeps running as we work their case. If we can do those two things well, everything else takes care of itself.”
Eberstein Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]