Peer Pressure May Be Effective Tool against Teen Distracted Driving
Because parents, teachers and other teen mentors are aware of the negative impact of peer pressure, we often fail to focus on peer pressure as a tool for improving teen motor vehicle safety. The term “peer pressure” usually refers to teen drinking and driving, texting behind the wheel or other forms of unsafe driving when applied to the risks associated with teen car accidents. However, a recent study suggests that peer pressure can also be a valuable resource to prevent teen car accidents when properly harnessed.
A recent study analyzed the impact of peer pressure on teen cell phone use while driving, and found that a third of teen drivers indicate they will not engage in text messaging or emailing when another teen is a passenger in the vehicle. These results are particularly significant because 95 percent of teens in the survey indicated that they did engage in these types of unsafe driving behaviors when driving without anyone else in the vehicle.
The study also revealed that the chilling effect on cell phone use by teen drivers from peer pressure was not limited to only texting and email activity. Teens also were less inclined to post to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter when operating a motor vehicle if they had teenage passengers. While ninety percent of teens posted pictures and comments on social media sites when driving alone, this number fell to 32 percent when transporting a teen passenger.
Predictably, teens are even less likely to use their cell phone while driving if there is a parent in the vehicle, but the fact that teens abstain from texting and driving when other teenagers are present in the vehicle comes as a bit of a surprise. The researchers indicate that the results of the study show that teen attitudes are being impacted by public service campaigns that focus attention on the dangers posed by distracted driving. Teenagers are adopting an attitude that using a cell phone while driving is socially unacceptable, which is impacting the behavior of other teen drivers.
While the study suggests progress is being made on reducing cell phone use by teen drivers, the news is not all good. Two-thirds of the teen drivers in the study indicated that they drive when they are too drowsy to safely operate a motor vehicle. Further, distracted driving still accounts for approximately ten percent of all car accident-related fatalities annually. Another cause for concern is that after many years of declining fatality rates for teen drivers, the teen fatality rate for 16 and 17-year-old drivers rose by almost twenty percent during the first part of 2012. While there has been progress, teen drivers and passengers still face a serious risk of being injured in a car crash.
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