We have good news and we have bad news. The bad news is teenagers text while driving more than parents think they do. But the good news is parents have a lot of influence on how their teens drive, according to preliminary findings of a study by Toyota and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The survey found that teens who think their parents are distracted drivers – texting, talking on the cell phone, eating while driving, looking for things, or focusing on passengers and passenger behavior – are much more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors themselves. A slight majority of parents as well as teens use hand-held cell phones while driving – 61% of parents report they do, while 54% of teens do. But parents still underestimate how much teens text behind the wheel. According to the study, 26% of teens read or send a text message from a smartphone at least once every time they drive, whereas only 1% of parents believe their teen does the same. Even more alarming, 20% of teens admit to extended, multi-message text conversations while driving. Other findings:
If a teen thinks his or her parent look for things in the vehicle while driving, the teen is four times more likely to also look for something while driving, compared with a teen who does not believe their parent does this at all.
Teens search for music on a portable music player, such as an iPod, four-and-a-half times more frequently than parents do while driving – 53% of teens say they do so, while just 12% of parents do.
11% of teens say they update or check social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, while driving.
69% of teens report driving with two or three teen passengers and no adults in their car, which is associated with a doubling of the driver’s risk of being killed in a crash.
44% of teens admitted to driving with more than three teen passengers and no adults, which quadruples the driver’s risk of being killed.