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Study Blames Parents for Teen Car Accidents

Update Date: Aug 11, 2014 06:38 PM EDT
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New research reveals that parents are partly responsible for teen car accidents.

Researchers found that more than half of teens who report talking on their phones while driving also talk to their parents behind the wheel.

The latest study involved data from more than 400 teen drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 from 31 states.

Researchers wanted to know why teens talk and text in light of the warning and serious hazards of distracted driving.

"Teens said parents expect to be able to reach them, that parents get mad if they don't answer their phone and they have to tell parents where they are," Noelle LaVoie, PhD, a cognitive psychologist based in Petaluma, California, said in a news release.

Teens who admit to talking or texting while driving were also more likely to say that "everyone is doing it," and that his or her parents exhibit the same behavior.

According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes among all drivers. Distracted driving also accounts of 11 percent of all fatal teen car accidents, and 21 percent of these involved cell phones.

"It's critical to raise awareness among parents and provide teens with tools for communicating with their parents," said study co-author Yi-Ching Lee, PhD, of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Several cell phone applications are available that can alert someone that the person they're trying to contact is driving, LaVoie noted.

The latest study involved 13 participants between the ages of 15 and 17 who were interviewed in person by a researcher and 395 participants between the ages of 15 and 18. The study revealed that 37 percent of participants between the ages of 15 and 17 with restricted drivers' licenses and 50 percent of participants who were 18 and possessed unrestricted licenses reported talking on the phone with a parent while behind the wheel.

The study also revealed that 16 percent of participants aged 18 and 8 percent of those aged 15 to 17 reported sending texts to their parents while driving.

"Parents need to understand that this is not safe and emphasize to their children that it's not normal or acceptable behavior," said LaVoie. "Ask the question, 'Are you driving?' If they are, tell them to call you back or to find a spot to pull over so they can talk."

The latest findings were presented at the American Psychological Association's 122nd Annual Convention.

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