Parents may be partly at fault for teen distracted driving habits

When you think about the problem of distracted driving, you may think that it is primarily a problem for teens and young adults. Although distracted driving is a major problem across all age groups, in many cases, you would be correct. According to government statistics, about 10 percent of all drivers under 20 years of age were distracted at the time of the car accident. In fact, drivers in this group are the most distracted of all age groups.

Why do drivers in this age group think that it is okay to use their cellphones or text while they are driving? In many cases, the parents are partially to blame. For one, prior studies have shown that many teens think that it is a social norm, because they have regularly watched their parents engage in the same activity. A new survey has also cast some of the blame on the parents for their teen's bad driving habits.

During the survey, recently presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention, about 400 drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 in 31 states were asked about their driving habits. It found that newly licensed teens were the least likely to talk on their cellphones while driving-43 percent of them said that they did not use a phone while driving. However, as teens got older, they were more likely to use a cellphone while behind the wheel. Among the 16-17 age group, only 29 percent said that they did not talk and drive. By the time the participants reached the age of 18, that number had decreased to 10 percent.

Although it is widely known that teens love their cellphones, the survey uncovered a surprising finding-the reason why many teen drivers are on the phone is because of their parents. About one-third of 15 to 17-year olds and 50 percent of 18-year-olds said that they regularly talk on a cellphone with their parents while driving. The reason that the teens said that they felt it was necessary to speak with their parents while behind the wheel was fear of punishment. The teens said that their parents expect to be able to reach them at any time and would get angry if they could not be reached immediately.

According to safety experts, the survey's findings underscore the importance of parental involvement in the safety of their children. Experts recommend that parents ask their children if they are driving at the beginning of each call. If the answer is yes, ask them to call back later. Additionally, parents should also lead by example and refrain from using their cellphones while they are driving.

An attorney can help

Michigan law has recognized that young drivers are especially susceptible to distractions. As a result, texting and cellphone use is illegal for novice drivers. Unfortunately, despite the law, a countless number of young drivers cannot resist the temptation to stay connected.

Unfortunately for those that do, there can be severe consequences. Aside from criminal fines, distracted drivers that cause an accident can be held civilly liable for their negligence. If a distracted driver has injured you, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can assist you in holding the negligent party accountable for the expenses of the accident, including your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.