Recent research has revealed that teens and other novice drivers are at
greater risk of having an
auto accident than more experienced drivers. Parents can play a big role in preventing
accidents involving teen drivers, particularly accidents resulting from
The study, published this month in the
New England Journal of Medicine, found that novice drivers are at a high risk of crashing when they take
their eyes off the road and that distractions can take a number of forms.
Though texting is a well-known distraction, dialing a phone is even more
dangerous than receiving a text message.
The research, conducted by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation
Institute and the National Institute of Child Health and Development,
focused on the behavior of 151 drivers were monitored behind the wheel,
according to a report in
Reuters. Of the drivers, 42 were novices and 109 were experienced. The researchers
looked at what caused distractions and what the drivers were doing in
the seconds preceding an accident.
Teens were at a far greater risk of being involved in an accident due to
distraction, the researchers found. The actions that caused the most distraction
were dialing and reaching for a phone. These behaviors also affected experienced
drivers, but they managed the distractions better, looking back up at
the road more quickly than the novice drivers.
This is only one study on the risks of teens and distracted driving. Another
study found that 13% of drivers ages 18-20 involved in car accidents admitted
to texting or talking on mobile devices at the time of the crash. Also,
a 52% of drivers ages 16-17 say they have talked on a cellphone while
behind the wheel. These statistics and others are reported at
What Can Parents Do?
Schools, parents and even other teens have a responsibility to stop distracted driving.
Talk to your child about the dangers of distracted driving. Chances are, your teen has heard it before, but revisit the topic often.
If an accident happens in your community due to distracted driving, make
sure your teen knows about it. Let your teen know you don't want to
see him or her hurt.
Watch a video with your teen. Distraction.gov offers numerous free resources to help prevent teen distraction.
"Faces of Distracted Driving" is a video that could bring home
the real risks of texting and talking behind the wheel.
Have your teen commit to being distraction-free. Print out a pledge form that asks your child to promise not to text, and
hold your teen accountable. Make it clear that distractions will not be
tolerated and consequences (like their loss of driving privileges) may
follow for violations of your rules.
No other teens in the car. Having other teen passengers is one of the greatest distractions of all.
Limit the number of passengers your child is allowed to transport.
Look into phone apps and devices. Technology can work with you to prevent distraction. Numerous developers
are creating apps and tools that help parents monitor their children's
phone use. One of the latest,
DriveID, will shut down a driver's phone if it is being using to text, play
games, or otherwise distract a driver.
Perhaps the best thing you can do is lead by example. Teens notice if you
are texting behind the wheel even if you tell them it's dangerous.
They will heed your actions more than your words. For yourself, your family
and everyone on the road-don't drive while distracted.