In many ways, teens are no different than adults. We all know it’s dangerous to talk on the cell phone, text, and analyze the GPS while we drive – yet how many of us still do it?
The same appears to be true for teens. An AT&T survey found that 97% of teens know that texting while driving is dangerous. Still, 75% say that the practice is still common among their friends.
Even with all of the media attention and high profile campaigns to warn of the dangers of texting, 30% of teens report that they read a text message once or more every time they drive.
Parents can’t give up, though. The crash risks are just too high:
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted
- 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted
Parent Texting Leads to Teen Texting
One of the single most important things a parent can do to reduce their teen’s texting while driving is to reduce their own. A University of Michigan study found that when parents text and drive their teens are two to four times more likely to do the same.
Parents need to keep in mind that texting affects teens more than adults. Texting impairs a driver manually, visually, and cognitively. That leaves precious little attention left for a new and inexperienced driver to actually manage the car.
In addition, teens live in a text culture: 89% of teens say they reply to text messages within five minutes, whether they’re driving or not. 77% of those teens also claim to have seen their parent texting while on the road.
If parents can model restraint by turning off the phone while they drive, or waiting until they get home to read texts, or pulling over if something is that important — they may be able to shape their teen’s behavior, or at least reduce the risk.