Texting while driving: What are parents modeling?

By Anne Collier

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “found that teens whose parents had three or more crashes on their records were 22% more likely to crash at least once, compared with teens whose parents had no crashes,” NPR reports. It also found that “children whose parents had three or more violations on their records were 38% more likely to have a violation on their own records, compared with teens whose parents had none.” There isn’t research yet on parents’ influence in the area of texting while driving, but Amanda Lenhart at Pew/Internet told NPR that teens in Pew’s focus groups would tell stories of how their parents texting-while-driving habits scared them when they were passengers. Add together any negative example that parents are setting and teens’ penchant for all-the-time texting, and you don’t get a winning combination. “In post-crash interviews [with researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration], texters often can’t recall going through stop signs or traffic lights because they were so involved in looking down at their phones.” [See also this on the latest Pew study on teen texting, finding that 72% of US teens are daily texters and “Drivers don’t text.”]

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