Horrifying news out of AAA which recently discovered in one survey that nearly eighty percent of all car wrecks in Virginia are caused by distracted driving. The study, which focused on drivers along the I-95 corridor, also discovered that 20 percent of motorists admitted to texting while driving more than once in the previous month.
AAA says that while the survey was restricted to those driving along I-95, they believe the results can be broadly applied across the rest of the country. The automobile organization surveyed 900 drivers who frequently travel through the I-95 corridor and the results found that 20 percent admitted that they have nearly been involved in accidents due to their own distraction behind the wheel.
The study also hinted at another problem, the dangers posed by texting adult drivers. While many have heard about the dangers caused by texting teens, most don’t realize just how common the practice is amongst the older generation. Headlines have been devoted to stories about how teen texting and driving has now become the leading cause of death for teenage drivers. Last year alone researchers discovered that nine percent more teens died from texting-related accidents than died in alcohol-related collisions, the first time in decades that drunk driving was not the number one cause of death. A study found that each year more than 3,000 teens die due to texting and driving while another 300,000 will suffer injuries in such accidents.
Though the problem with teens is certainly serious – already dangerous distraction being worsened by their age and inexperience – experts say parents need to take a long hard look in the mirror before scolding their kids. One recent survey by the University of Michigan found that 90 percent of parents engaged in at least one technology-related behavior while driving during the previous month. This could include fiddling with GPS devices, placing cellphone calls and even texting.
Breaking the data down one more step, researchers say that 15 percent of parents with young children admitted to typing or reading a text message while driving in the previous month. Experts say that the figures are alarming for two reasons. First, such high numbers of parents admitting to texting while driving raise concerns about the safety of the children in their vehicles. Second, and perhaps most importantly, is that the behavior sends a dangerous and permissive message to children who are then more likely to text and drive when they are out on their own.
Experts say that rather than lecture teens about the dangers of texting and driving, more parents need to practice what they preach. That means parents should refrain from texting while driving in any circumstance, but especially when they are in the presence of their children. To do otherwise sends a dangerous and possibly deadly mixed message. Given the rising number of teen deaths caused by texting, we can only hope parents think long and hard before picking up a phone in the presence of their children.