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The Role of Parents in Teen Distracted Driving

Most people would assume that teens who are distracted behind the wheel are talking or texting with their friends on a cell phone. A new study, however, shows that there are many young people who are actually speaking to their parents while on the road. 

Talking on a cell phone can significantly increase the risk of a young driver causing a crash that injures himself or others. A Janesville injury lawyer should be consulted by victims of collisions caused by distracted teen drivers. 

Parents and Distracted Teen Driving Crashes

Today Health reported on a disturbing new study showing that parents are inadvertently contributing to the problem of teen distracted driving.  The study was presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.  It involved a survey of more than 400 teenagers from 31 different states. The young drivers were asked about why they talk or text while driving. 

Among the respondents, 53 percent of the teenagers who admitted to talking on the phone indicated that they were speaking with their mother or father. Teens also admitted to texting their parents. In fact, 18 percent of all 18 year olds surveyed (not just those who said they texted and drove) said that they texted with their parents while behind the wheel. 

Teenagers told the researchers that the reason they pick up the phone or respond to texts is that their parents get mad when they don’t.  Unfortunately, the consequences of talking on the phone or texting can be devastating for a young person.  

In 2011, cell phone use was the cause of around 21 percent of fatal crashes involving teen distracted drivers.  Over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in the number of distracted teens. While in 2009 just 43 percent of 16 and 17 year olds responding to a Pew study said they talked on cell phones, the number had risen to 86 percent of 11th and 12th graders using phones behind the wheel. 

Parents can help to stop this disturbing trend and encourage safety. Today Health provides some tips for parents so they can discourage their kids from driving while distracted:

  • Parents should set a good example for their children. This means avoiding talking on a cell phone when driving with children in the car.  In 2012, a survey found that 91 percent of teenagers had seen their parent utilizing a cell phone when operating a motor vehicle. This signals to teens that this behavior is acceptable and something they can do. 
  • Parents should always ask their teen if they are driving at the start of the conversation. If the teen is behind the wheel, parents should hang up until their son or daughter is able to pull over and talk safely or until the teen gets to his destination. 
  • Parents should talk to their teens and set ground rules about driving while using a cell phone. 

By following these tips, hopefully fewer collisions can occur. If an accident does happen, Janesville injury lawyer Steve Caya at Noulan and Mouat, LLP can help.