Lead by example, so goes an old adage.
Especially in driving, as a new study has found that teenage drivers, who are most susceptible to car crash fatalities, take their cue from their parents when it comes to driving behaviour.
The Chicago Tribune reports that a joint study by Students against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Mutual found that parents set a pretty bad example for teens to follow, particularly with regard to using their cell phone.
“Parents are not great role models,” Gene Beresin, SADD senior adviser, said in the Tribune report. “As a matter of fact, they’re pretty poor role models for teenage driving.”
Specifically, the study noted that distracted driving now accounts for one in four car crashes.
The study surveyed 2,500 teens and 1,000 parents. Among others, it found that 55% of parents use apps while driving and 62% say they use their phone to take calls while behind the wheel.
Thirty three per cent of teens have asked their parents to put a stop to such behavior, the study also found.
The risky behavior also extends to parents calling their teens even if they know that the youngster is behind the wheel: 50% said they were guilty of calling their teens, while one third expect a response before their teenager reaches their destination.
“The good news is this sets the stage for a conversation between parents and teenagers,” Beresin observed.
The report outlines some suggestions to prevent fatal teen car crashes. Among them:
- Do not let your teen drive when they are tired. Encourage them to call you to pick them up or call a cab to ride home because the survey found that 10% of teens have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel due to tiredness
- Program navigation and music apps prior to a trip. These are the two most commonly used apps by teens and have often been a source of distraction. “Program a playlist ahead of time. If the phone is within reach and you hear or see a notification, you’re going to be very tempted to either look down or pick it up. And the bottom line is you don’t need to,” Beresin emphasized.
- Set a distinctive ring and text tone for emergencies so your teen can ignore their phone when the call is not urgent