A recent study conducted at the University of Michigan shows that many young people have friends who are easily distracted behind the wheel. According to a Consumer Reports article, about 60 percent of reporting parents were told by their children that they had a friend who lost concentration while driving.
Researchers say the finding highlights the importance of inculcating good driving habits in young people from an early age. Researchers say when teens begin to drive, there is typically a big focus on the safety of the drivers themselves. But, this poll suggests that parents should play an active role not only in preparing to be safe drivers, but also safety-minded passengers when traveling with friends.
What the Study Found
For this study, researchers used information from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan, analyzing responses from nearly 900 parents, all of whom had teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. The survey asked parents to report on their attitudes and actions when it came to their teen riding in a car with other people their age, which occurred at least one to two times per week for over 30 percent of the responders.
Parents said they did change their rules about teens being in the car with new drivers. Nearly 50 percent of parents said they limit trips that require highway driving and 50 percent said they limit trips with two or more teens. Parents also told researchers they were primarily concerned about loud music and cell phone use.
Also, 68 percent of parents said they limited their children’s trips with their friends when the weather was bad. Most parents also limited their teens going out with friends after midnight. Researchers say parents should try to empower their teens to be more proactive when it comes to avoiding common situations that cause distractions to the driver and to speak up to stop unsafe activities.
What Can Parents Do?
Here are a few steps parents can take to help their teens develop good and safe driving habits:
- Teach your teen to always obey the speed limit and the rules of the road, and to always buckle up. Their passengers should be wearing seatbelts as well.
- They should never use cell phones while driving.
- They should not engage in drinking or drug use. Driving while impaired is one of the leading causes of death in car accidents. Teach your teen never to get into a vehicle with an impaired driver or someone who has been drinking or using drugs.
- Do not allow your teen to drive with friends or even siblings for the first six to 12 months of having their license unless an adult is in the car.
- Impose a curfew. Night driving can be difficult for new and inexperienced drivers. Set realistic curfews and enforce them.
- Finally, make sure you role-model good driving habits.