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Study: Parents Share Some Blame for Teenage Distracted Driving

A recent study suggests parents may partially be to blame for teen distracted driving problem.

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Florida teens, like their national counterparts, often pick up their cellphones while they are driving to respond to a text or update their Facebook status. Unfortunately, when this occurs, it can result in a car accident that can cause serious injuries or even death.

Blame the parents of distracted drivers?

A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that distractions can affect teens in particular, as this group of drivers is the most likely to be involved in a car accident caused by distracted driving. However, a recent study presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention indicates that parents may share some of the blame for the distracted driving problem among teenagers.

Details of study

The study was based on a survey of about 400 teenage drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 from 31 states that were asked about their driving habits. The survey made a surprising discovery: the reason that many teen drivers are on their phones while driving is to communicate with their parents. About 53 percent of the participants that admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving said that they were taking to their mother or father at the time. In addition, 18 percent of 18-year-old drivers admitted to regularly texting their parents while behind the wheel.

The majority of teens in the survey said that parental expectations of instant communication was the reason that they used cellphones to speak with or text their parents while behind the wheel. The teens said that they feared that their mother or father would get angry if they did not immediately answer their phone or respond to their texts. This creates a dilemma for parents, who would like to know that their child is safe, but do not wish to communicate with them while they are operating a motor vehicle.

Protecting your children

Unfortunately for parents in Florida, the laws in place will do little to deter cellphone use or texting while driving. Under the law, there is no ban on cellphone use for a driver of any age. Although, it is illegal to send, compose or read a text message while operating a motor vehicle, it is only a secondary offense. This means that a law enforcement officer cannot issue a citation for texting unless he or she observed the driver committing another offense such as speeding.

To help mitigate the risks of parents inadvertently causing their child to become distracted, experts recommend that parents ask their child if they are driving at the beginning of each call. If the answer is yes, terminate the call immediately and ask the child to call back once he or she has arrived at the destination (or have pulled over, if the call is urgent). In addition, since most children learn what is acceptable behind the wheel by watching their parents drive, it is important for parents to lead by example and refrain from using cellphones or texting while driving.

Regardless of the fact that cellphone use behind the wheel is legal in Florida, if you have been involved in an accident caused by a driver distracted by a text or phone call, you potentially have right to compensation under Florida law. An experienced personal injury attorney can listen to the circumstances of the accident and advise you of your right of recovery.

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