There are many a thing we shouldn’t be doing while driving: Reading, smoking, drinking, and “adult activities” (it had to be said) are but a few on top of the no-no list. Some are stupid, some are illegal, and all are dangerously distracting. And while the aforementioned driving-don’ts make perfect sense for most drivers, one demographic seem to find them much more difficult to steer clear of, especially when it comes to driving and using their handheld devices.
According to a national survey conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, nearly half of all teenagers in the past 30 days have operated distracting, and in some states illegal, smartphones or devices while driving. Dominating the market for this type of activity, 30 percent admitted to texting, 8 percent confessed to using smartphone apps, while 7 percent fessed up to accessing social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps least shocking of all is that a full 65 percent of those surveyed acknowledged distracted driving activities such as talking on the phone to be “dangerous.”
Of course, getting these free-spirited teen drivers to acknowledge their behavior as dangerous is only half the battle – getting them to stop is the other. According to Consumer Reports, the best strategy so far has been found in utilizing informative and clever public service announcements aimed specifically towards the youth. More than 60 percent of respondents said they were influenced to stop or alter their distracted driving behaviors by reading or hearing about the problem. Additionally, while some states have undertaken legal provisions to ban smartphone use while operating an automobile, only 40 percent claimed to show a positive reaction toward such laws. Even less effective were families who enacted smartphone bans for their teens, with only 30 percent willing to listen to their parents’ decree.
Perhaps least surprising, though, were the numbers associated with positive peer pressure. The study found that almost 50 percent said they were more likely to put down the phone and curb their dangerous driving habits when in the car with a friend. Consumer Reports notes that this could very well have been due to nearly half of respondents being asked by passengers in their car to not use their phones while driving.
But while today’s teens continue the oh-so-shocking trend of disregarding the rules set forth by society and their parents, findings from the study found that parents, unsurprisingly, have a bigger influence in shaping their children’s driving habits than they realize. Consumer Reports says that almost 48 percent of the young drivers surveyed had seen their parents talk and drive, while another 15 percent have caught them texting.
So, Mom and Dad, next time you reach for your iPhone while driving in the car with your kids, think of what example you might be setting.
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