ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – A new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota has found that teens are texting behind the wheel more than their parents realize.
But, perhaps more surprising, the study of more than 5,500 teens and parents found that mom and dad have a lot of influence on how their children drive.
U of M research professor C. Raymond Bingham said if teens see their parents distracted behind the wheel, they’re modeling risky behavior.
“I think as parents what we need to be doing is monitoring our own behavior better,” Bingham told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Zahra Huber. “Driving is a complex task. And I think parents need to realize that doing that is even more difficult for their kids than it is for them, because teens have less experience.”
Bingham and colleagues said that teens think their parents engage in distracted driving more often than may be the case. A third of teens believe their parents use an iPod or other electronic device for music while driving, while only 10 percent of parents report that they do. Seventy-one percent of teens believe their parents read or write down directions while driving, while 55 percent of parents said they actually do.
According to the study, teens who think their parents are distracted drivers are much more likely to take part in similar behavior and more than half of teen drivers and parents admitted to using hand-held cell phones while driving.
So, what does Bingham recommend?
“Talk to your kids about it; let them know how dangerous this is and that you don’t want them doing it,” he said, adding, however,”There are some things that are distracting that you have to do as part of driving, like adjusting the heat and air conditioning settings.
“You have to choose the right time to look away from the road in order to complete that task and be safe,” Bingham said.
Learn more about the study’s findings at this link.