Who Texts and Talks with Teen Drivers? The Answer May Surprise You

By Seeking Justice | October 7, 2014 |

TeenDrivingGraphics1A recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed a surprising fact: Parents are playing a direct role in the dangers of teen drivers who talk on the cell phone or text behind the wheel.

More than 400 drivers ages 15-18 from 31 states participated in the APA survey. Many teenage drivers said they were aware of the dangers of texting or talking on the cell phone while driving, but felt obligated to answer a text or call from a parent.

Why? In most cases it was because parents expect to be able to reach their child at all times, and would get angry if the child did not respond immediately.

Roughly half of the drivers in the study reported that they take calls from their parents while driving. This should be a wake-up call for parents of teen drivers.

As a parent, do you talk to your teenager while he or she is driving? If so, you may be putting your child at risk of causing a car accident.

Teen Drivers: Far More Likely to Text While Driving

TeenDrivingGraphics2The teenage drivers in the survey said they were more likely to text their friends, although 16 percent of 18 year olds reported that they had sent a text to their mother or father, and 8 percent of drivers ages 15-17 said they had texted a parent while driving.

More than half of the teenage drivers surveyed reported that they take calls from their parents while driving.

Cell phone use, whether for texting or talking, has been established as a major factor in the rising numbers of distracted driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Distracted Driving Accident Statistics, 2011

Percent of Fatal Crashes 10%
Percent of Injury Crashes 17%
Number of Deaths 3,331
Number of Injuries 387,000
Percent of Distracted Driving Fatalities 12%
Number of Injuries Involving Cell Phone Use 2,100
Percent of Drivers Ages 15 – 19 in Fatal Crashes 21%
Percent of Drivers Ages 15 – 19 in Fatal Crashes Involving Cell Phone Use 21%

Source: NHTSA, National Center for Statistics and Analysis

What Parents Can Do

Parents who require an immediate response from a teenager should be aware that this requirement could result in the serious danger of distracted driving and increase the possibility of an accident.

There are several methods by which a parent could avoid contributing to this epidemic:

  1. Ask your child if he or she is driving before engaging in a conversation. If so, end the call.
  2. Install one of several texting/driving apps on your child’s smartphone that will read a text on the vehicle speakers or will disable the texting when the vehicle is moving 10 mph or more.
  3. Have a discussion with your child about responding to you if he or she is driving, and change your requirements for an immediate response, asking your child to call you back only after he or she has reached the destination or stopped somewhere safe.

A recent study from NHTSA revealed that about 86 percent of teenagers in grades 11 and 12 admit to using their cell phones while driving. Parents do it, too. It has become the norm to be involved in a conversation while driving – both for teens and their parents.

Teen drivers who see their parents using a cell phone while driving grow up believing that talking while driving is normal and part of safe driving. Parents must be made aware that they are setting the stage for their child to do the same.

Parents play an integral role in whether their teenagers will be likely to use a cell phone for talking or texting behind the wheel. Parents must open the conversation and change their own behavior to reduce the risk of a distracted driving accident.

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