Tackling teen distracted driving may come down to phrasing

Understanding how teens define texting and driving could be the key to preventing distracted driving.

With teens at a much higher risk of being involved in a car accident than any other age group, finding ways of making driving safer for teen motorists is a high priority for many safety experts. Given that, according to the AAA Foundation, about 60 percent of motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers are caused by distractions, tackling the problem of distracted driving could be an effective way of saving the lives of young drivers. Recently, one study into teen distracted driving found that preventing distracted driving may be easier by having a better understanding of what teens define as distracted driving in the first place.

Studying distracted driving

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania had 30 teenage drivers divided into seven focus groups in order to find out what their views on distracted driving were. Because the answers to the researchers' questions were confidential, the participants were likely to be much more honest about their behavior behind the wheel than they might have been had they been talking to a parent or other authority figure. The study specifically focused on texting and driving.

The good news, according to the researchers, is that close to all the participants said they agreed that texting while driving was dangerous. At the same time, however, the researchers note that awareness of the dangers of distracted driving does not always translate into safer behavior. One study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, found that 45 percent of teenagers admitted to texting and driving within the last 30 days.

What counts as distracted driving?

A major question for the researchers, therefore, was understanding why, even when teenagers knew texting and driving was dangerous, they still did it anyway. The researchers found that for many teens, their definition of texting and driving differed from the legal definition. Many of the respondents, for example, did not believe that texting while at a red light counted as texting and driving.

Additionally, teens were more likely to respond to a text message based on who was texting them. Close friends, for example, were more likely to get a reply from a teen who was driving than were acquaintances. Perhaps most troubling is that respondents were more likely to text and drive if a parent was texting them, despite the fact that, as the researchers note, most parents would likely prefer their children to refrain from all texting and driving no matter who it is with.

Motor vehicle accidents

Anybody who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, particularly when that accident may have been caused by another motorist texting and driving, should reach out to a personal injury attorney today. A qualified attorney can help accident victims understand the claims process following a wreck and may be able to help them pursue financial compensation that could assist them during their recovery.