Parents partly to blame for teens’ distracted driving
Many warn against the dangers of distracted driving, particularly parents of new teenage drivers. It’s surprising then that new research reveals that parents may in fact contribute to the problem by calling their teens while they drive.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, among teen drivers, distracted driving causes 11 percent of fatal crashes, and 21 percent involve cell phones.
To find out why teen drivers continue to talk while driving, despite the dangers, researchers surveyed more than 400 teen drivers on the topic. Results of the survey were presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in early August.
Participants, between the ages of 15 to 18, from 31 states gave several reasons why they risk talking while driving, including:
- Parents expecting to be able to reach them
- Parents getting mad if they don’t answer their phone
- Having to tell parents where they are
- Their parents use cell phones while driving.
- “Everyone else is doing it.”
In terms of texting, researchers found that teens were more likely to send messages to friends than parents. However, 16 percent of the 18-year-old participants said they had texted a parent while driving, while 8 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds said the same.
“Parents need to understand that this is not safe and emphasize to their children that it’s not normal or acceptable behavior,” said lead study author Noelle LaVoie in a statement.
Study co-author Yi-Ching Lee of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia added that, “It’s critical to raise awareness among parents and provide teens with tools for communicating with their parents.”
LaVoie, a Petaluma, Calif.-based cognitive psychologist and consultant, pointed out that such tools include several mobile apps that can alert a caller that the person they’re trying to reach is driving.
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