Study shows that teens often take calls from parents who also use cell phones while driving
At Ransin Injury Law in Springfield Missouri as a car accident and personal injury lawyer, I have witnessed an alarming trend when it comes to distracted driving; it’s increasing rapidly. Recently, I came across a great study presented at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention. In this study, they found hard evidence that parents play a major role in distracted teen driving, with more than 50% of teens talking on cellphones with their parents while driving. As part of this study, they interviewed or surveyed more than 400 teen drivers, ages 15 to 18, from 31 states, including Missouri to find out if they continue to talk and text behind the wheel, despite the warnings about the dangers of districted driving and texting while driving.
“Teens said parents expect to be able to reach them; that parents get mad if they don’t answer their phone, and they have to tell parents where they are,” said Noelle LaVoie, PhD, a cognitive psychologist based in Petaluma, California. The teens also said that their parents used cellphones while driving and that “everyone is doing it,” according to the research, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Distracted Driving in Springfield Missouri
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes among all drivers. For teens, it causes 11 percent of fatal crashes, and of those, 21 percent involved cellphones, according to a 2013 report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Just here in Springfield Missouri distracted driving related accidents has passed drunk driving. In fact, it’s the fastest growing accident category and the second largest total accident category just behind failure to yield. One of the aspects that I found interesting is rethinking the way parents need to communicate with their children.
Driod and Iphone have developed features on their phones that will alert some that the person they are trying to contact is driving. Think of this as an auto response when you are in the car, as to not distract the driver. A 2013 survey by Liberty Mutual and the nonprofit organization Students Against Destructive Decisions (formerly Students Against Drunk Driving) found that 86 percent of 11th- and 12th-graders use a cellphone while driving, a significant increase from the results of a 2009 Pew survey that found that 43 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds talk on a cellphone while driving and 26 percent text while driving, according to the presentation.
The researchers designed their survey based on in-person interviews with 13 teens, ages 15 to 17, who had learner’s permits or driver’s licenses. They asked them about typical driving hazards, including talking on a cellphone and texting while driving. Every teen who said he or she talked on the phone while driving talked to parents, while 20 percent said they talked to friends. Among the 395 survey participants, 37 percent of the 15- to 17-year-olds with restricted drivers’ licenses and 50 percent of the 18-year-olds with unrestricted licenses said they talked on the phone with a parent while driving.
When it comes to texting, the teens were more likely to send messages to friends than parents, the survey found. However, 16 percent of the 18-year-old survey participants said they had texted a parent while driving, while 8 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds said the same.
The bottom line is that as parents, we must present an example of safe driving habits and behaviors. We must follow these and think about how and when we should communicate with our children, so we do not distract our children when they are driving. Simply tell your kids to call or text you back when they are not driving. Simple steps, a few extra minutes, can and will make all the difference.
*Information gathered from: “Is that Mom on the Phone? Teen Drivers and Distraction” (PDF, 334KB) Noelle LaVoie, PhD