Teenage Distracted Driving is a Problem Parents Contribute To
Teenagers are one of the largest problem groups when it comes to distracted driving, especially from talking on the phone or texting and driving. However, a new study shows that the cause of a teen’s distracted driving is, more than half the time, due to an interruption from their parents.
Parents call their children while the teenagers are driving, the study shows, and 53% of teenagers involved in the study of 408 teens said they answered the phone if a parent was calling them.
The American Psychological Association presented the study at their annual convention.
“Teens told us parents really expected to keep track of them, and they are expected to answer the phone if the parent calls. In some cases, the parent might continue to call until the teen answers,” says Noelle LaVoie, a psychologist in Petaluma, Calif., whose private research firm conducts corporate and government studies.
The research included interviews of teenagers 15-18, who were in their first few years on the road, in 31 states.
Distracted driving is the leading cause crashes among drivers of all ages, according to a 2013 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and is as dangerous as drunk driving. Distracted driving causes 11% of fatal car crashes involving teenagers, and 2,700 teens between 16 and 19 years old are killed every year because of the problem.
“One of the things teens talked about is the fact that parents used their cell phone while driving,” LaVoie says. “It was just very surprising to see how directly parents are involved … What we do know for sure is if parents would not call their teens while they’re (kids) driving, it would reduce teen distracted driving.”
Another distracted driving survey, presented on Thursday, August 7th, researchers asked college students about the things that caused their distracted driving the most – 89% answered that they placed cell phone calls while driving, while 79% texted while driving.
“Younger drivers seemed overconfident in their ability to multi-task,” says co-author Keli Braitman, an assistant professor of psychology at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.
“This is a very critical reminder of the importance parents play in making sure their teens are safe drivers,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association in Washington, D.C., who wasn’t involved in the research.
“The biggest [strategy] is through education with parents,” Adkins added. “They have to change the culture so it’s no longer acceptable for anyone to use their cellphone and drive. This is a wake-up call for good parenting.”
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