Teenagers continue to text and use their phones behind the wheel, despite
the known risks of this behavior. In fact, according to
USA Today, a 2014 study of college students showed that 89 percent were placing
or responding to cell phone calls as they drove, and 79 percent were either
sending or receiving texts while operating a vehicle. Surprisingly, another
study revealed that many young people are communicating not only with
friends but with parents.
A recent American Psychological Association study about teen driving behavior,
conducted by a total of 408 teens across 31 states, revealed that many
young people are talking or texting with their parents as they drive.
The teens, who were between the ages of 15 and 18, shared information about
their phone use while driving:
- 37 percent of survey respondents between the ages of 15 and 17 who were
driving with restricted licenses admitted to either texting with or talking
to their parents at the same time as they were driving.
- 50 percent of survey respondents who were 18 and who no longer had a restricted
license said that they talked or texted with their parents as they drove.
- 53 percent of teenagers who talked on the phone spoke to a parent, rather
than to a friend. Just 46 percent of calls were made to friends. When
it comes to texting, however, teenagers were more likely to use this method
to communicate with friends rather than parents as they drove.
The findings came as a surprise to the psychologist who conducted the research
since parents generally try to set rules for teens that discourage dangerous
driving behaviors. The researcher suggested that “If parents would
not call their teens while they’re driving, it would reduce teen
distracted driving.” Teens also said that their own behavior was
shaped by the fact that they generally saw parents on the phone when the
parent was driving.
Distracted driving has potentially grave consequences for teens and parents alike. Motor
vehicle collisions remain a leading cause of death, especially among teens
and children. An estimated 11 percent of
fatal accidents involving teen drivers occur when the teenager is distracted behind the
wheel. Of the
distracted driving collisions that occur, 21 percent involve the use of a cell phone while driving.
Parents should know the risks and do everything they can to prevent their
teens from picking up the phone while behind the wheel. Avoiding calling
while a teen is driving is the first step. For parents with new drivers,
it may be beneficial to have them call or text before getting in the car
to drive somewhere and upon arrival so that parents will know that their
son or daughter has arrived safely and will avoid calling or texting during
the time that the teen is behind the wheel.
Regardless of who a teen is talking to, a person who is on their phone
while driving is taking a major risk with his or her own life and the
lives of others.