Parents should encourage their teenagers to drive safely and should set an example and establish clear rules of acceptable behavior. Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that parents may actually be a contributing cause of distracted driving among teenagers.
Young people should never be on the phone or texting when they drive. Yet our personal injury lawyers continue to see far too many motor-vehicle collisions caused by negligence, including those involving distracted teenage drivers.
The Role of Parents on the Issue of Teen Distracted Driving
According to I Street Research, a survey of more than 400 teen drivers in 31 states revealed that young people were frequently distracted behind the wheel when they received calls from their parents. The teens were between the ages of 15 and 18 and were asked a number of questions about how they used their phones in the car.
According to the survey:
- 37 percent of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 who had restricted driver's licenses said that they either talked or texted with their parents while they were operating their vehicle.
- 50 percent of 18-year-olds who have unrestricted licenses indicated that they talked or texted with their parents while driving.
USA Today also provided information on the recent study. The data shows that kids are more likely to talk to their parents on the phone while driving than they are to speak with their friends. Around 53 percent of teens who talked on their phone talked to a parent while just 46 percent talked to a friend. The reverse is true of texting; teens who text were more likely to send or read messages from friends rather than from parents.
The psychologist who conducted the research stated that: "It was just very surprising to see how directly parents are involved," and suggested that "If parents would not call their teens while they're driving, it would reduce teen distracted driving."
Teen distracted driving is a major problem. Another recent study reported on by USA Today found that 89 percent of college students placed cell phone calls while operating their vehicles and 79 percent texted as they drove. This study did not ask whether it was parents or friends being contacted.
Clearly, parents need to do their part to stop encouraging distracted driving behavior. A parent who knows a child is driving should not call his or her son or daughter. Parents also need to model good behavior by not using the phone in the car when driving their teen some place. Teenagers cite their parent's cell phone use as one reason why they are comfortable talking behind the wheel.
Teen distracted driving causes 11 percent of fatal collisions. Among those crashes, 21 percent involve the use of a cell phone. It is essential to do everything possible to reduce the dangers so young people can arrive safely at their destination. Parents may wish to have kids call or text before getting in the car and then after they arrive so that the parent knows not to try to make contact during the journey.
If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at 800-994-1966 or visit http://www.cobywootenlaw.com.