Studies show that 38 percent of high school students, 4 out of 10 teens, admit to regularly texting while driving. Texting and driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents for teen drivers, with accident statistics that now rival drunk driving and speeding.
Teen Drivers are Texting Behind the Wheel
Most teenagers are attached to their cell phones, so it’s no surprise that teen texting and driving is a common occurrence. Teens don’t always realize the dangers of texting while driving because their brains are still developing. When texting and driving is combined with lack of experience behind the wheel and other distracted or reckless driving behaviors, teenagers face a high risk of serious or fatal car crashes.
Texting while driving makes a driver of any age at least 23 percent more likely to have a car crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), accident reports show that 15 percent of all injury crashes and 10 percent of all fatal crashes are caused by distracted drivers. Reports also show that 9 percent of drivers between ages 15 and 19 who are involved in fatal car crashes are distracted at the time of their accident.
A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that 38 percent of teen drivers text while driving. In Illinois, the minimum age for a learner’s permit is 15, so that percentage jumps to 42 percent. Chicago auto accident attorneys commonly see car crashes involving teen drivers that result in fatalities.
Prevention Starts at Home
Parents can set a good example for their teens by discussing safe driving behaviors and not texting while driving. If parents or other adults text and drive, teens are more likely to see it as an acceptable behavior. Parents can use apps that monitor a driver’s behavior and provide real-time feedback with safety tips. These types of apps help parents monitor their teens’ driving habits, as well as their own.
Parents must emphasize the dangers of texting and driving to make teens understand their risk of serious injuries or death in a car crash. Instilling safe driving behaviors and holding teens accountable for risky driving behaviors goes a long way towards safe driving. Taking the Text-Free Driving Pledge as a family can provide a good incentive for teen drivers to avoid texting and driving. Rewarding a teen for safe driving practices builds self-esteem and reinforces confidence in their driving skills.