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Do as I say, not as I text: Parents, kids and distracted driving p2

While texting and other cellphone uses while driving are legal in Florida, research consistently shows that texting in particular is dangerous. Texting involves the brain, the hands and the eyes. An activity that involves any one of these -- taking your mind off your driving, your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road -- is dangerous enough. Texting is the trifecta of dangerous distractions for drivers.

In our last post we talked about a recent survey; the researchers looked at the perceptions and realities of teens and their parents with regard to distracted driving. The results showed that teens tended to overstate their parents' (self-reported) distracted driving habits. Whether it was dealing with passengers, reading directions or texting while driving, the teens thought their parents were much worse than their parents said they were.

Conversely, parents thought their kids were much less apt to text while driving, for example, than teens admitted to. Roughly one quarter of the teens surveyed said they text once during each shot behind the wheel, but only 1 percent of their parents thought this was true.

Perhaps the most worrisome of the findings was that teens tend to follow their parents' leads when it comes to risky behavior. If a teenager even thinks his dad talks on the cellphone all the time, the teen himself will do the same thing. What's OK for dad is OK for me. In an unfortunate twist, if teens see their parents not talking on the cellphone, they are less likely to follow the good example.

There may be some brain science that explains the urge for teenagers to rebel by taking more risks than their parents take, by being worse drivers than their parents, but the survey didn't go there. The results strongly suggest, though, that parents who set a bad example for their kids are adding fuel to teenagers' tendency toward risky behavior.

The lesson is that parents need to start modeling and start enforcing good driving habits early and often.

Source: Online Auto Insurance News, "Study: Teens Using Parents' Habits to Justify Distracted Driving," John Pirro, Nov. 29, 2012

Our firm handles cases for clients who have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver. Please visit our website to learn more information about our Manatee, Florida, practice.

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