Survey: Teens Driving Distracted, Fast
Emotions of Teenage Drivers Play a Role in Dangerous Driving Behaviors
Jan. 25, 2007 -- The vast majority of teens regularly drive while distracted
by other passengers, cell phones, and other factors, suggest the results of an
insurance industry survey released Wednesday.
Ninety percent of all teens said their friends drive while using a mobile
phone, either to talk or send text messages. An equal number say their friends
The idea that teens are prone to driving distracted and at high rates of
speed is not surprising. But researchers said they're beginning to understand
teens' emotions may play a significant role.
'Deadly Mix' of Emotions
Flaura K. Winston, MD, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia, says teens with new licenses have usually not learned to control
both positive and negative emotions. That can be annoying to adults at home,
but to teens behind the wheel it can constitute a "deadly mix," she
"It distracts them. It makes them not make these good decisions,"
says Winston, co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and
Prevention, which conducted the study.
The survey asked 5,665 high school students about their driving behaviors
and the driving behaviors of their friends. Ninety percent said they've seen
friends drive while distracted by other teens in the car. Beyond that, teens
love to speed.
"Speed is like a drug," says Steve Arends, who suffered a severe
brain injury in a crash that killed his twin brother when they were 17 years
old in 2003. "It's just terrible how addictive speed is when you get in
Winston says one in five teens surveyed said they had already been in a
crash. Overall, 16- to 19-year-old drivers have a crash fatality rate four
times higher than adults over 25, according to the National Highway Traffic
The study was paid for by State Farm Insurance, which is lobbying for
uniform graduated licensing laws nationwide that restrict new drivers' ability
to drive with passengers or at night.
"As a business issue, it is something we really want to address,"
said Laurette Stiles, the company's vice president.