Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Parents' phone calls puts teenage drivers in danger

Instead of helping teenagers drive safely, many parents distract their kids with their pesky calls, says a study.

Researchers interviewed more than 400 teenage drivers, aged between 15 and 18, from 31 US states to find out why they continue to talk and text behind the wheel, despite warnings about the serious hazards of distracted driving.

"Teens said parents expect to be able to reach them, that parents get mad if they do not answer their phone and they have to tell parents where they are," said Noelle LaVoie, a cognitive psychologist based in Petaluma, California in the US.

Parents play a direct role in distracted teenage driving, with more than half of teenagers talking on cellphones with their parents while driving, the findings showed.

The teenagers also said that their parents use cellphones while driving and that "everyone is doing it".

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes among all drivers. For teenagers, it causes 11 percent of fatal crashes, and of those, 21 percent involved cellphones, according to a 2013 report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

"It is critical to raise awareness among parents and provide teenagers with tools for communicating with their parents," study co-author Yi-Ching Lee from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia noted.