Some Teen Safe Driving Choices Are Still Dangerous
December 17, 2015
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently conducted a study to gauge teen attitudes on safe driving choices regarding cell phones. The researchers saw some encouraging signs but say there’s still a long way to go before cell phone use by teens while driving is a thing of the past.
To conduct their research, the researchers conducted several focus groups with 16 to 18 year old drivers. The questions asked of the teen drivers were designed to get an overall view of teen perceptions regarding cell phone use while driving with the intent of gathering information to help develop future interventions to reduce risky driving choices by teens.
According to the head researcher, Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, it was encouraging to see that teens recognized that cell phone use, texting, and use of social media are dangerous behind-the-wheel. When asked what methods teens used to prevent the use of cell phones while driving, some teens listed methods such as turning off the cell phone or pulling off the road before making or answering a call. However, some teens listed choices such as waiting for a red light or until they were on familiar roads before diverting their attention to the cell phone.
While it’s good that they are considering ways to reduce their cell phone use, those choices such as waiting for red lights or familiar roads are still dangerous choices that take their eyes and mental attention off the road.
- Choosing to use hands-free communication devices has been shown to be no safer than the use of hand-held devices.
- A driver’s attention at red lights is important too. Not noticing that the light has turned green can hold up traffic behind and lead angry drivers to try to retaliate.
- Research shows that hands-free devices are still distracting for up to 27 seconds after hanging up.
- Waiting for familiar roads is a bad choice because most traffic collisions happen within 25 miles of home and at speeds below 45 mph. Drivers become complacent on those familiar roads and that leads to even more distractions.
According to the researchers, until more effective methods are developed to pry teens away from their cell phones while driving, parents are still the primary influence in promoting safer choices by teens. Setting a good example and insisting on strict rules for cell phone use while driving, parents can help keep their teens safe on the road.