Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Modern Parenthood

Peer pressure is part of texting and driving – teens can’t say no

But teens should say no. Peer pressure, not wanting to ignore friends, leads to texting and driving. And a new study shows that 75 percent of young adults think there's nothing wrong with that.

By Guest blogger / April 19, 2012

An anti-distracted advertisement in the "Billboards Support Texting and Driving Prevention Campaign." A new study shows that 75 percent of young adults think there's nothing wrong with texting and driving.

PRNewsFoto/Outdoor Advertising Association of America

Enlarge

Clearly, there is no love in texting while driving!

Skip to next paragraph

Guest Blogger

Anne Collier is editor of NetFamilyNews.org and co-director of ConnectSafely.org, a Web-based interactive forum and information site for teens, parents, educators, and everybody interested in the impact of the social Web on youth and vice versa. She lives in Northern California and has two sons.

Recent posts

Contrary to what I’ve heard from teens who admit to texting while driving a car in motion, it is not impolite or mean not to answer a friend’s text while driving a car! It’s just plain intelligent. And if a friend, relative, or anyone else who calls or texts you when they think you might be driving, they are not loving you. They are endangering you.

Here’s why: One new study, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of teen deaths and another one, by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that using digital devices is the No. 1 cause of distracted driving. Put those two findings together, and there is truly no excuse for – and not one ounce of love or wisdom in – either texting while driving a car or encouraging someone to do so by texting them when they’re driving.

The AAA study found that “talking on the phone [hands-free too] or texting while driving was the most common behavior that distracted young drivers, more so than adjusting controls, grooming, eating or drinking, or engaging in horseplay or loud conversations with passengers.”

Entitled “Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers,” the study was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina and was the first “to use in-car video recordings to study teen distracted driving,” CBS News reported. The video clips were recorded “inside the cars of 50 families.” Recording was “triggered by certain events – sudden braking, an abrupt turn – during unsupervised driving” by both new drivers and “older, more experienced sibling drivers … resulting in 24,085 driving clips of 52 teens taken over a six-month period,” CBS News reported.

The NHTSA says “the average text takes our eyes off the road for five seconds – at 55 MPH, enough time to travel the length of a football field – so it isn’t surprising that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver,” even though 75 percent of young adult drivers are confident they can safely text while driving. The NHTSA study found that 32 percent of young adults who drive while distracted “don’t think anything bad will happen,” 22 percent say “it makes driving less boring,” and 34 percent say they’re used to multitasking.

So we ConnectSafely.org folk asked some teens here in California why they think people are so casual about texting while driving, and we heard a range of responses like (I’m paraphrasing)….

“Technology is my life – why should I put my life on hold just because I’m driving a car?”

“It’s rude not to answer a text” – suggesting that it’s not socially acceptable to “ignore” someone, and driving doesn’t change that. It’s scary to think it may already be a “social norm” to respond to a text while driving.

“Texting is who I am. It’s even more than self-expression and definitely more than just communication. Why would I take time out from that?”

When asked about how this is different from drinking and driving, or DUI (to which our society has managed to attach a stigma or at least awareness), teens told us that alcohol abuse is risky anytime, anywhere, while texting isn’t. So the two behaviors are entirely different, they told us.

Those comments illustrated for me the challenge we have ahead of us as a society, in changing a highly risky behavior in which some young people (and probably some adults too) seem even to take pride.

We were very successful in raising awareness about driving under the influence of alcohol and creating the norm of having a “designated driver.”

But this is different. It isn’t just a sequel to that public campaign. So we need to be creative and, above all, create a campaign around facts, not fear.

What will help? Getting everybody to understand there’s no love in texting while driving? Yes? No? What else? Please comment with ideas or stories about what has helped in your families and social circles!

Permissions

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!