A new study conducted by Toyota Motor Corp. and the University of Michigan indicates that parents do not understand the extent to which their teens are texting and driving. The majority of states have banned texting and driving because of the increase in auto accidents tied to the behavior. The survey gathered responses from more than 5,500 16-18 year-old drivers and their parents. The survey found that teen drivers drive with other teens, and with no adults in the car, nearly 70 percent of the time. In addition, it found that teens either read or send text messages while driving 26 times more frequently than their parents believe they do.
Toyota indicated that it chose teen driving behavior as the basis for its survey because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that car crashes are the top cause of death for people in that age group. According to CDC numbers, approximately 7 drivers between 16 and 19 years of age die per day in the United States.
The survey looked at two behaviors that are often components of graduated licensing programs. Many such programs forbid teen drivers from driving with other teenagers in the vehicle when an adult is not present. In addition, many graduated licensing programs forbid teens from using any electronic device, whether for texting or talking, while driving. The survey showed that 54 percent of teen drivers use hand-held phones while driving.
While it is vital for parents to impress upon their children the dangers of texting and driving, it is not enough to assume that your children are obeying. Teens are still engaging in this risky behavior at unacceptable levels. More needs to be done.
Source: Bloomberg, “Teens Text More While Driving Than Parents Think: Study,” by Alan Ohnsman, 27 November 2012