Talking or texting on a cell phone while on the road is called distracted driving and something that every parent should discuss in-depth with their teenage drivers. But now a new study about teenagers behind the wheel shows that in many cases, their own parents are driving them to distraction.
Can you believe it–parents are calling their kids while they are driving and the numbers are ridiculous! More than half of participating teens reported being on the phone with either mom or dad while driving, according to new research presented by the American Psychological Association. The research found that about 53% of teens who talked on the phone behind the wheel talked to a parent and 46% talked to a friend. For texting, messages were more likely to go to friends than parents.
The research included a survey with drivers from 31 states, ages 15-18 that have learner’s permits or driver’s licenses. What they told the pollsters was shocking, stating things like “my parents know that I’m driving, but they call or text me anyway” or “I’ve learned how to multi-task, so I don’t get distracted when I drive and text” and this one—“My parents use the cell phone in the car all the time, so why shouldn’t I do the same?”
A report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes among drivers of all ages. For teens, it causes 11% of fatal crashes. Among those crashes, 21% involved cell phones, the report says. So why are so many parents (and obviously their children) not taking this nationwide dilemma seriously?
Researchers at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., asked college students about their driving distractions. Findings show 89% placed cell phone calls while driving and 79% texted while behind the wheel – either sending or receiving.
Recent studies show some improvement and illustrate that more and more people are aware of the problem of distracted driving. In one study, drivers said they will not use their cell phones in bad weather or in heavy, high-speed traffic. So, at least that is somewhat promising.
But, based on these studies, it is evident that many parents need to lead by example and set down firm rules about texting and/or talking on the phone in the car. But, maybe most importantly—don’t call your children while they’re likely driving and let’s make our roads a little safer one common sense lesson at a time.
Sources: NHTSA, American Psychological Association and William Jewell College