An alarming number of teen drivers are engaging in risky behavior, including sending and reading text messages, and talking on their cell phones while driving, according to research by AAA and Seventeen magazine.
The AAA/Seventeen survey of 1,000 16- and 17-year-old drivers indicated that 61 percent of teens admitted to risky driving habits. Of that number, 46 percent said they text while driving, and 51 percent talk on their cell phones. Other teens also can be a driver distraction, the survey noted, yet 58 percent of teens responded that they drive with their friends in the car.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens, claiming more than 6,000 15- to 20-year-olds each year,” said Jack Peet, AAA Michigan Community Safety Services Manager. “Inexperience behind the wheel coupled with poor decision-making ability make it even more important for teens to stay focused when driving. Their attention should not be divided among phones, friends and the road.”
Also unsettling was that 40 percent of the teen survey respondents said they exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour or more while driving. Eleven percent of teens admitted to drinking or using other drugs before getting behind the wheel.
The survey suggested that to make the driving experience safer for teens, they should drive during daylight hours, on familiar roads and without teen passengers.
Parents should be good role models, by obeying speed limits, exhibiting good driving skills, wearing a seat belt and avoiding the use of electronic devices while driving, the survey suggested. The survey also noted that entering into a parent-teen driving agreement could help parents and their teenagers develop a dialogue about safe driving habits.
“Teens love to text, talk on their cell phones and hang out with their friends,” said Seventeen Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket. “But when you mix those social activities with young, inexperienced drivers, the results are dangerous and, in many cases, fatal.”
“Novice young drivers need experience to gain the proficiency that will help to keep them safe on the road,” Peet added. “It’s critical for teens to drive in the safest environment for at least the first six months of unsupervised driving.”
AAA provides more than 50 million members travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services.
Seventeen, a Hearst Magazines publication, is the largest teen beauty/fashion magazine in the country, reaching 13 million readers each month.
For more information on the teen driving survey and tips on keeping teens safer on the road, visit http://www.aaa.com/publicaffairs