TIME Transportation

Teen Drivers Get Distracted Far More Easily Than Any Parent Dares to Think

Distraction plays a role in four times as many teen driving accidents than previously estimated

Everyone complains about teenage drivers glued to their cellphones while on the road. But a new report and video from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows just how dangerously distracted they are — much more than anyone thought.

The study found in 58 percent of moderate to severe crashes involving teen drivers, distractions played a part. That’s four times the previous official estimates.

In 2013, the most recent year for which there is data, 963,000 teenagers crashed a vehicle, killing 2,865 people and injuring 383,000 more.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says driver distraction caused 14% of all crashes, with 7% of those caused specifically by cellphone usage. But the new AAA study — reviewing more than 6,800 videos from inside cars from August 2007 to July 2013 — finds that the prevalence of distraction is way higher.

It says that at least 12% of teen car crashes involved cellphone usage, 5% higher than the official statistic.

The report additionally found that teenagers using a cellphone did not look at the road for an average 4.1 of the six seconds before a crash. When distracted by cellphones, teenagers failed to brake or steer appropriately, with most rear-end collisions caused by slower reaction times. Some 15% of teen crashes involved a driver inattentively chatting with at least one passenger.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Is the technology that is supposed to increase resilience actually making us vulnerable?

By Colin Dickey in Aeon

2. Stock buybacks — usually to prop up a corporation’s perceived value on Wall Street — are draining trillions from the U.S. economy.

By Nick Hanauer in the Atlantic

3. The Navy of the future wants to use lasers and superfast electromagnetic railguns instead of shells and gunpowder.

By Michael Cooney in Network World

4. An after-school culinary skills program gets teens ready for work — and thinking about food in our society.

By Emily Liedel in Civil Eats

5. The next wave of bike lanes in London could be underground.

By Ben Schiller in Fast Co.Exist

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME sleep

Tech Wrecking Sleep for Scores of Teens, Says Study

Teen Sleep Computer Phone Tech
Getty Images

Maybe they should be dubbed Generation-Zzzz.

Teens who bury their faces for hours on end in laptops, tablets, smart phones or TV screens during the days tend to suffer bad nights of sleep, researchers reported Monday.

“There are indications that today’s teenagers sleep less than previous generations,” said Mari Hysing, co-author and a psychologist at Uni Research Health in Norway. “There are some aspects of electronic devices that may give an additional arousal; the [screen] light may impact sleep hormone production, and also the social communication aspect” may stir adolescents to keep chatting deep into the night …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Teenagers

‘Wow, Quel Babes!': American Teenagers in Paris in the 1950s

They scorned frog legs, drank Coca-Cola and studied Parisian charm. LIFE photographer Gordon Parks captured their carefree European lives, and experienced a new kind of freedom there, as well

LIFE proclaimed it “one of the world’s foremost colonies of displaced persons.” Its denizens, the magazine said, were a peculiar people who loved adventure, yet preferred “their own way of life.” They spoke their mother tongue among themselves, but sometimes fractured the local language with such abandon that natives risked being “startled by a bilingual ‘Wow, quel babe!'” In fact, locals thought this boisterous clan was “a little crazy,” in large part because they drank “so many Cokes.” The mad colonists were members of that most exotic of tribes: American teenagers. Numbering about 150, they had been transported to France mostly thanks to their fathers’ jobs.

When LIFE dispatched Gordon Parks, a rising star among its staff photographers, to document the tribe’s rites and rituals in the early 1950s, teenagers were still a new and somewhat puzzling phenomenon. Earlier generations of human beings had not, of course, skipped the ages between 12 and 20. But few societies had recognized an intermediate step between childhood and adulthood. “Teenage” was an idea that emerged slowly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as child labor declined, schooling lengthened and marriage came later and later. The very word entered common speech only in the 1940s. In 1952, when LIFE ran its story on the young Yanks of Paris, it was still spelling “teen-ager” with a hyphen.

Parks’ photographs captured the sports, gossiping and parties that made up a large part of the teenagers’ daily lives. Many captured them in the Paris of the American imagination—on a streetcar in front of the Arc de Triomphe, at a sidewalk café on the Champs-Élysées and in the jazz club that occupied the “shadowy cellar” of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier.

The portraits that Parks made of the youth were miniature character studies. In all of the photographs, Parks’ presence is undetectable. It was as if his pictures made themselves. Readers could easily believe that they were privy to the teenagers’ most private moments.

LIFE’s sly, knowing text (the reporter was not named) pretended to reassure readers that Paris had not corrupted the teenagers by turning them into young Frenchmen and -women:

Neither boys nor girls think much of frogs’ legs, but they know every place in Paris that makes hamburgers and hot dogs and, while having a snack at a sidewalk café, are inclined to dream of the corner drugstore.

Among many cliques in Paris teen-age society, the best known is a group of girls, 15 to 18 years old, who named themselves the ‘Horrible Six’ when they got together early in the 1950 school term. They have a strict code of dress … Sloppy shoes are not tolerated, bobby sox are taboo. Girls must diet if dumpy, and chipped nail polish is forbidden.

By every girl’s admission, the goal is to keep the dates coming in Paris, build charm for college years in the U.S. and ultimately lead to a nice, home-grown marriage to the right man. Right now the girls don’t think that he’ll be a Frenchman.

Parks went on to become one of LIFE’s most celebrated photographers. His claim to greatness as a photographer rests on the many photo essays that he produced on the pressing issues of poverty and injustice. But Parks, like the magazine he worked for, had many sides. He loved the trappings of success—the travel, the nearly unlimited expense account and the salary that catapulted him into the upper middle class. Like all of LIFE’s photographers, he could produce compelling pictures of hard news in the morning, and light-hearted frivolities in the afternoon.

The years that Parks spent in Paris were a turning point in his life. He was one of many African-Americans, from writers and musicians to cabbies and cooks, who experienced a freedom in the city that they had never found in the United States. He described this critical period in his 1990 memoir, Voices in the Mirror:

I needed Paris. It was a feast, a grand carnival of imagery, and immediately everything good there seemed to offer sublimation to those inner desires that had for so long been hampered by racism back in America. For the first time in my life I was relaxing from tension and pressure. My thoughts, continually rampaging against racial conditions, were suddenly becoming as peaceful as snowflakes. Slowly a curtain was dropping between me and those soiled years.

“I was moving through centuries of history, and not unaware of the possibility of its help in shaping my future. Being a part of it was like feeling at once young and old.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Crime

Kentucky’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Teens Will Face Charges in Their Home State

Missing Teens Crime Spree
Tammy Martin—AP In this December 2014 file photo provided by Tammy Martin, her son Dalton Hayes poses with his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips at his family's home in Leitchfield, Ky. Kentucky authorities say two teenage sweethearts suspected in a crime spree of stolen vehicles and pilfered checks across the South have been apprehended in in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Jan. 18, 2015

They're being booked for burglary and trespassing related offenses

After a two-week-long crime spree, Dalton Hayes, 18, and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, will be returning home to Kentucky to face multiple charges.

Hayes, who was captured in Florida, relinquished his right to an extradition hearing and will be charged with burglary, criminal trespassing and custodial interference, according to NBC News.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said Phillips will be charged with similar crimes “but she’ll be treated differently than Dalton because he’s an adult.”

The couple is suspected of stealing three cars during a two-week crime spree that covered multiple states and drew media comparisons to the infamous 1930s criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde. On Facebook, the Grayson County Sheriff’s office distanced themselves from the comparison, however.

Hayes’ mother, Tammy Martin, said she doesn’t know what went through her son’s mind but was happy he was found.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I see him is hug him and tell him I love him, and then I might smack him,” she said.

[NBC News]

TIME Israel

Israel Sentences Palestinian Kidnapper to Life for Killing of 3 Teenagers

Rally Held In Tel Aviv For Missing Israeli Teenagers
Lior Mizrahi—Getty Images Israelis hold a poster showing the three missing Israeli teenagers, as they attend a rally under the slogan 'Bring Our Boys Home' on June 29, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The killing quickly escalated into 50 days of conflict in last summer's Gaza war

An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian man to life in prison on Tuesday, for the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers, which rapidly escalated into a wider regional war last summer.

Hussam Kawasmeh, a member of Hamas, was sentenced to three life terms for devising the plan to abduct three Israeli teenagers hitchhiking along a road in the West Bank, Reuters reports. The youths were lethally shot and found buried in the West Bank some three weeks after their disappearance.

Two members of the Hamas cell behind the attack were killed in a firefight with Israeli troops, while Kawasmeh, one of the sole survivors, was arrested in a West Bank raid in August.

The killing was quickly followed by a revenge attack against a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem and flared out into 50 days of sustained conflict in the Gaza war last summer.

Read more at Reuters.

TIME Parenting

Study: What Kind of Car NOT To Buy a Teen Driver

Marilyn Angel Wynn—Getty Images/Nativestock

Old cars may be cheaper, but they have fewer safety features, says insurance study

Driving around in an old clunker is one of the teenage rites of passage. But in news that will no doubt gladden the hearts of car salesmen everywhere—and terrify parents—a new study suggests that parents might want to think of getting their young drivers a newer automobile for safety reasons.

The study delved deep into parents’ nightmares and analyzed all the teen driving deaths in data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for 2008 to 2012. In that time 2420 kids between the age of 15 and 17 died at the wheel of a car. The researchers, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia, ascertained the make, model and safety features of each car.

What they found was that almost half of the teen drivers killed on U.S. roads in that period were driving vehicles that were 11 or more years old, and thus often lacked certain safety features, like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and airbags.

ESC is a relatively new technology that can detect when a vehicle is skidding and applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle where the driver intends to go and is especially useful in cases where the driver loses control–something that is more common among drivers who may have recently passed their driving test, say the researchers. According to the study, it can cut the risk of death in single vehicle crashes by around half and by 20% in crashes involving several vehicles.

Teens were also more likely to die in smaller vehicles. When comparing the teens with fatally injured drivers between the ages of 35 and 50, the researchers found that teens were significantly more likely to have been at the wheel of a small or mini car (29% vs 20%) or a mid-size (23% vs 16%), and less likely to have been driving a large pickup (10% vs 16%).

“Larger, heavier vehicles generally provide much better crash protection than smaller, lighter ones,” says the study.

All of this makes sense, because who wants to give their teen driver an expensive new car? And who wants to let them drive the family SUV or other big car? But the potential downside may be worth the risk to property.

The good news is that since 1996, far fewer teens are killed by road traffic accidents—or as road safety officials like to call them “road traffic collisions,” as part of raising awareness that these things are not really accidental; they have a cause and it’s usually human error. But teenagers still have about three times as many police-reported and fatal crashes as adults, when you take into account the distance they drive.

So when looking into buying your kid’s first car, says the study, it might be worth investing in something less vintage and more protective. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.”Parents may benefit from consumer information about vehicle choices that are both safe and economical,” says the study. So do your research. And shop around.

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TIME
MONEY Kids and Money

Trouble Talking to Kids About Money? Try This Book Instead

parents trying to talk to teenage daughter
Getty Images/Altrendo

A new book hopes to impart important money lessons in just a few words and pictures

Talking to your kids about money is never easy. We have so many financial taboos and insecurities that many parents would rather skip it—just like their parents likely did with them. If that sounds like you, maybe a new easy-to-digest money guide written for teens can be part of your answer.

As a parent, you have to do something. Kids today will come of age and ultimately retire in a vastly less secure financial world. Their keys to long-term success will have little to do with the traditional pensions and Social Security benefits that may be a big part of your own retirement calculus. For them, saving early and building their own safety net is the only sure solution.

Most parents get that. After all, adults have seen first-hand the long-running switch from defined benefit to defined contribution plans that took flight in the 1980s. Yet only in the last 15 years have we really begun to grasp how much this change has undermined retirement security. Now, more parents are having the money talk with their kids. Still, many say they find it easier to talk about sex or drugs than finances.

The big challenge of our day, as it relates to the financial security of young people, is getting them thinking about their financial future now while they have 40 or 50 years to let their savings compound. But saving is only one piece of the puzzle. Young people need to protect their identity and their credit score—two relatively recent considerations. Many of them are also committed to making a difference through giving, which is an uplifting trait of younger generations. Yet they are prone to scams and don’t know how to vet a charity.

In OMG: The Official Money Guide for Teenagers, authors Susan and Michael Beacham tackle these and other basics in a breezy, colorful, cleverly illustrated booklet meant to hold a teen’s attention. The whole thing can be read in an hour. I’m not convinced the YouTube generation will latch on to any written material on this subject. And while the authors do a nice job of keeping things simple, they just can’t avoid eye-glazing terms like “liquidity” and “principal.”

But they make a solid effort to hold a teen’s interest through a handful of “awkward money moments,” which illustrate how poor money management can lead to embarrassing outcomes like their debit card being declined in front of friends or having to wear last year’s team uniform because they spent all their money at the mall. “Kids are very social and money is a big part of that social experience,” says Susan Beacham. “No teen wants to feel awkward, which is why we chose this word. If they read nothing else but these segments they will be ahead of the game.”

The Beachams are co-founders of Money Savvy Generation, a youth financial education website. They have a long history in personal finance and created the Money Savvy Pig, a bank with separate compartments for saving, spending, donating, and investing. In OMG, they tackle budgets, saving, investing, plastic, identity theft, giving, and insurance.

A new money guide for young people seems to pop up every few years. So it’s not like this hasn’t been tried before. Earlier titles include Money Sense for Kids from Barron’s and The Everything Kids Money Book by Brette McWhorter Sember. But most often this subject is geared at parents, offering ways to teach their kids about money. Dave Ramsey’s Smart Money Smart Kids came out last spring and due out early next year is The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money from New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber.

In a nod to how tough it can be to get teens to read a book about money, Beacham suggests a parent or grandparent ask them to read OMG, and offer them an incentive like a gift card after completing the chapter on “ways to pay” or a cash bonus after reading the chapter on budgets and setting one up. “Make reading the book a bit like a treasure hunt,” she says. That just might make having the money talk easier too.

 

 

 

TIME Teenagers

‘The Luckiest Generation': LIFE With Teenagers in 1950s America

From LIFE in 1954, a snapshot of a specific segment of American society at a singular moment in the nation's history

If there’s one thing we humans like to do, it’s label ourselves and one another. Sometimes those labels, applied to vast numbers of people, are obviously laudatory (The Greatest Generation). Sometimes they’re pitying (The Lost Generation). Sometimes they’re duly withering (The Me Generation). And sometimes, at least in the moment, they’re just plain accurate.

In June 1954, LIFE magazine published an article titled “The Luckiest Generation” that, revisited 60 years later, feels like an almost perfect snapshot of a certain segment of American society at a particular moment in the nation’s history. We’ll let LIFE set the scene:

The morning traffic and parking problems [LIFE wrote] became so critical at the Carlsbad, N.M., high school that school authorities in 1953 were finally forced to a solution: they set aside a special parking area for students only. In Carlsbad, as everywhere else, teenagers are not only driving new cars to school but in many cases are buying them out of their own earnings. These are the children who at birth were called “Depression babies.” They have grown up to become, materially at least, America’s luckiest generation.

Young people 16 to 20 are the beneficiaries of the very economic collapse that brought chaos almost a generation ago. The Depression tumbled the nation’s birth rate to an all-time low in 1933, and today’s teenage group is proportionately a smaller part of the total population than in more than 70 years. Since there are fewer of them, each — in the most prosperous time in U.S. history — gets a bigger piece of the nation’s economic pie than any previous generation ever got. This means they can almost have their pick of the jobs that are around. . . . To them working has a double attraction: the pay is good and, since their parents are earning more too, they are often able to keep the money for themselves.

A few things to point out here. First, and probably most obvious, is the racial makeup of the “teenage group” that LIFE focused on, at least pictorially, in that 1954 article: there might be a few people of color in one or two of the photographs in this gallery, but we certainly have not been able to find them.

Second, the nature of the boon — of the improbable and unprecedented good fortune — that befell these kids is not that they’re spoiled rotten, or that every possible creature comfort has been handed to them. Instead, it’s that they have the opportunity to work at virtually any job they choose. “They are often able to keep the money” that they earn.

So, yes, they were lucky — and compared to countless generations of youth who came before, all over the world, white working- and middle-class teens in 1950s America were, for the most part, incredibly lucky. But unlike the entitled creatures that most of us would count as the “luckiest” (and the most obnoxious) among us these days, the teens profiled in LIFE in 1954 don’t look or feel especially coddled.

They look secure. They look confident. They look, in some elemental way, independent. They’re learning, day by day, what it means to make one’s way in the world.

In that sense, maybe they were the luckiest generation, after all.

Liz Ronk, the Photo Editor for LIFE.com, edited this gallery. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Research

Repeated Pot Use Linked to Lower IQ

File picture shows marijuana plants at a indoor cultivation in Montevideo
Andres Stapff—Reuters Marijuana plants are seen at a indoor cultivation.

The average marijuana user's IQ was five points lower than that of a non-user

Repeated marijuana use is correlated with lower IQ scores and less volume in the region of the brain that helps make decisions, according to a new study.

The study found that the average marijuana user’s IQ was about five points lower than that of a non-user. The earlier the study participants began consuming the drug, the worse the condition of the brain. The study, which compared almost 50 marijuana users to a control group, suggests that at first brains affected by marijuana compensate for the deficit in decision-making brain volume by increasing connectivity, a key brain function. But marijuana-affected brains can’t keep up in the long term.

“The results suggest increases in connectivity, both structural and functional that may be compensating for gray matter losses,” said study co-author Sina Aslan, a faculty member at The University of Texas at Dallas. “Eventually, however, the structural connectivity or ‘wiring’ of the brain starts degrading with prolonged marijuana use.”

While previous studies have showed that marijuana causes harm to the brains of animals, researchers said they couldn’t be sure whether marijuana use was the cause of the negative changes in the brain. Nonetheless, the study joins a growing body of evidence that marijuana harms the brains of young people.

 

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