Teenage Drivers: Are Parents Putting Teen Drivers at Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents?


If a teenage driver gets into a distracted driving car accident because of talking on a cell phone, it may be the fault of the teen’s parents, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s recent convention.

Noelle LaVoie, a psychologist who owns a private research firm in Petaluma, California, reported that more than half of teens who talk on the phone while they’re behind the wheel are talking to their mother or father, according to an article in USA Today. The teens are driving distracted because parents call their kids while the young inexperienced drivers are behind the wheel.

Of 408 teenage drivers in 31 states that LaVoie surveyed, about 53 percent of those who said they talked on the phone while driving said they talked to a parent. Another 46 percent said they talked to a friend.

LaVoie said that teens surveyed said that their parents really expected to keep track of them, and they were expected to answer the phone if a parent called.  “In some cases, the parent might continue to call until the teen answers.”

What’s more, some parents model bad behavior when they drive. “One of the things teens talked about is the fact that parents used their cell phone while driving,” LaVoie told USA Today.

Distracted driving is a serious problem in Georgia and across the nation.

In April, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) said 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2012, and 336 (10 percent) died in crashes that involved distracted teenage drivers (15 to 19 years old). In all, 10 percent of teenage drivers who were involved in fatal crashes of any kind in 2012 were distracted at the time of the accident.

Young experienced drivers have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal accidents, according to the NHTSA.

Researchers were surprised by how closely parents are involved with their teenagers’ lives, LaVoie said.

LaVoie said parents can help reduce distracted driving by refraining from calling their teens while they are driving.

Under Georgia law, drivers younger than 18 years old are prohibited from using cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

Another study presented to the conference by researchers at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., said 89 percent of college students surveyed made phone calls while behind the wheel, and 79 percent texted while driving.

Additional research indicates that younger drivers are more likely than older drivers to text or talk on the phone while driving, Keli Braitman, an assistant professor of psychology at William Jewell College, told the newspaper.

LaVoie’s study also said that a teen who texts while driving is more likely to be communicating with a friend than a parent.

Texting while driving is illegal in Georgia, no matter the driver’s age.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving, no matter the at-fault driver’s age, contact an experienced Atlanta car-accident attorney for help filing a personal-injury claim. We can help you obtain the compensation you need to get through the healing process.