One of the most risky times for a driver is when he or she first receives a license. Practice helps improve skills, but there’s a learning curve, with accidents potentially occurring during that time. Even when a teen is alert, a collision may still occur – but bringing cell phones and texting into the picture makes the scenario far more perilous.
However, results from a recent study found that a significant influence on teens’ distracted driving is their parents. This isn’t obtrusive back-seat driving, but instead an urge, possibly out of respect and responsibility for answering a cell phone.
With the results presented recently at the American Psychological Association’s 12th Annual Convention, the study itself had 400 participants between the ages of 15 and 18, from 31 states. Researchers asked why they texted or answered a phone, especially when the associated dangers are so well known.
Surprisingly, those involved said they answer their phones or send a text to prevent their parents from getting mad. Less surprisingly, others said they did it because others did it.
Out of this group, 37 percent of 15 to 17 year olds with restricted driver’s licenses and about 50 percent of 18 year olds spoke with their parent on the phone while behind the wheel. Another 16 percent of 18 year olds and eight percent of 15 to 17 year olds sent texts to their parents while driving.
Regarding these findings about addressing how to best handle this scenario, Noelle LaVoie, PhD, a cognitive psychologist based in Petaluma, California, said in a statement about the study: “Parents need to understand that this is not safe and emphasize to their children that it’s not normal or acceptable behavior. Ask the question, ‘Are you driving?’ If they are, tell them to call you back or to find a spot to pull over so they can talk.”