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Parents Found to Contribute to Teen Driving Distractions

Nov 28, 2014 - Car Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

For most parents, the day their teens get their driver’s licenses is a frightening one. Losing control over their children’s activities means losing the ability to keep them safe. These days, parents typically use mobile phones to regain a degree of control. In fact, teens report that calls from their parents represent a notable contributor to the distractions teens experience while driving. In Tuscaloosa alone, each auto injury lawyer at our firm has seen too many examples of the results of distracted teen driving. We recommend taking a common-sense approach to keeping everyone safe on the road.

Many Teens Report Driving While Talking to Parents

The American Psychological Association interviewed eight restricted and unrestricted licensed teen drivers, all of whom reported talking to parents while driving. The results from a written survey of nearly 400 teens were not quite as alarming. However, based on license types, 31 to 50 percent of drivers reported talking to parents — more than talking to friends in most cases.

Just as disturbing, only 43 percent of drivers with learners’ permits reported no cell phone usage. Unfortunately, that percentage seems to decrease based on license type. Only 10 percent of drivers age 18 with unrestricted licenses report they do not use phones while driving. A Tuscaloosa auto injury lawyer understands that an unrestricted license does not instantly provide the ability to drive effectively while distracted. Most calls can wait until all drivers arrive at their destination safely.

Parents Need to Become Part of the Solution

Teen drivers report three main reasons why they take calls from their parents in spite of the risks:

  • Their parents get angry when their children do not answer their calls. Parents need to assume that no answer means the children are behind the wheel. When children answer, parents need to first establish if they are driving. If so, ask them to pull over or call back later.
  • Children witness their own parents talking on the phone while driving. Teens are influenced by the people they respect. Parents need to lead by example. They should avoid using their phones while driving with their children — and keep the phone tucked away when the children are driving.
  • Using cell phones while driving has become the norm. New technology seems to appear on the market every day, but good parent-teen communication is a constant. Teens listen to their parents even when they appear to tune out. Share local news stories about serious accidental injuries caused by distracted driving to encourage kids to break the norm. Real life-and-death examples paint a vivid picture.

Graduated License Rules Do Not Go Far Enough

The graduated driver license law instituted by the Alabama Department of Public Safety in July 2010 represents an important safety step for less-experienced drivers. Still, while the law allows only one passenger in the cars of drivers with Stage II restricted licenses, it allows them to use hands-free devices. Any Tuscaloosa auto injury lawyer from our firm can corroborate that hands-free devices still contribute to accidents. We believe this type of distraction can be more risky than talking to a passenger in the car.

Additional Resources:

Is That Mom on the Phone? Teen Drivers and Distractions, August, 2014, Presentation from American Psychological Association Annual Convention

Distracted Driving, What Research Shows and What States Can Do, 2011, published by Governor’s Highway Safety Association

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Traffic Safety – Combatting Known Risks for Teens – Tuscaloosa Car Accidents Blogs

Alabama Traffic Safety Watch: More Teen Drivers Die Texting than Drinking – Tuscaloosa Car Accidents Blogs

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