Teen Distracted Driving: Are Parents Influencing?

Parental attitudes (and actions) make a big impact on how teens operate behind the wheel. For example, if parents talk on the phone as they drive with kids in the car, their teens are more likely to also use the phone as they drive. One recent study suggests that parents are having an even more direct impact on teen behavior. Parents who call or text their kids are actually causing more teens to drive distracted.

According to USA Today, more teens who talk on the phone while driving are actually communicating with their parents than communicating with their friends. This information comes from a new survey that was conducted of 408 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18. The teens who took part in the survey lived across the country in 31 different states.

In total, 37 percent of the teenagers between ages 15 and 17 with graduated licenses who were responding to the survey said that they had either talked on the phone with their parents or texted with their parents while driving. Among 18-year-olds who no longer have restricted licenses, a full half said that they had spoken to their parents or texted them on the phone while the teen was operating his vehicle.

When it comes to texting and driving, teens are still more likely to be communicating with their friends than to be communicating with parents. For talking on the phone, however, the opposite was true. A total of 53 percent of teenagers who were talking on the phone as they drove said that they were talking to parents, as compared with just 46 percent talking to a friend.

The research was surprising because the psychologist who conducted the study had not expected to see parents so directly involved in promoting distracted driving. The researcher told USA Today: “If parents would not call their teens while they’re driving, it would reduce teen distracted driving.”

Unfortunately, far too many young people do engage in this dangerous practice. In fact, USA Today indicated that another recent study of college students found that 89 percent placed or received calls on their cell phones as they drove. In total, 79 percent of the college students also said that they sent or read texts while operating a vehicle.

The consequences of this behavior are serious. Eleven percent of fatal collisions involving teen drivers involve distracted driving, and 21 percent of teen distracted driving deaths involve cell phone use. Parents should not be making this problem worse, and should refrain from calling or speaking to their sons and daughters when the kids are behind the wheel.

When a teenager talks or texts, lives are put in jeopardy, potentially endangering passengers and other motorists as well. Victims who are involved in a collision with a teen driver need to understand their rights. A car accident lawyer can help pursue a claim for monetary damages after a car accident. Contact Howell & Christmas today.

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