Graphic videos may not reduce South Florida car accidents involving teenagers

Young people may be more inclined to use cell phones or text while driving after watching graphic videos about the dangers, according to a study published by a professor at the University of South Florida.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of South Florida car accidents and traffic accidents nationwide. More than 6,000 people are killed and 600,000 injured each year in accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An article by Dr. Amy Ship, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, recommends that doctors speak to patients about the dangers of distracted driving, just as they would about the dangers of smoking and other unhealthy habits. The article references a graphic public service announcement being shown on British television about the dangers of text messaging by teenage drivers.

However, the Tampa Tribune reports that a study of 840 college students found that they were between 3 and 11 percent more likely to engage in such dangerous behaviors after seeing graphic videos depicting the consequences. The counterintuitive result is known as the “boomerang effect,” a phenomenon similar to people who smoke after seeing anti-smoking warning labels.

As we reported on our South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, teen drivers are at high risk of being involved in a serious or fatal car accident. In Florida, 516 teenagers were killed in traffic accidents in 2008.

Please visit our Safe Teen Driving Post for tips and safe driving information you can share with your young drivers.