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Distracted Teen Drivers Often on Phone With Parent

Survey also finds that many text mom and dad from behind the wheel

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Teens were more likely to text friends than parents while driving. But, 16 percent of 18-year-old drivers had texted a parent while behind the wheel and 8 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds had done the same, according to the researchers.

Teens told the researchers that their parents expect to be able to reach them, and that they may get mad if they can't contact the teens.

"This is a very critical reminder of the importance parents play in making sure their teens are safe drivers," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association in Washington, D.C., who wasn't involved in the research.

"The message here has to be to parents to stop driving distracted themselves and to set ground rules for teens that they should not be using the phone while driving," he added. "Teens follow what their parents do, not what they say."

While widespread public awareness campaigns surrounding the dangers of texting and driving have successfully lowered the incidence of that form of distracted driving, LaVoie said, the same type of campaigns need to be utilized for cellphone conversations while driving.

Parents and teens should also discuss these dangers, she said, and set strategies for minimizing them. These might include parents asking their teens if they're driving when they call, and if so, either telling them to call them back later or pull over so they can talk.

"The biggest [strategy] is through education with parents," Adkins said. "They have to change the culture so it's no longer acceptable for anyone to use their cellphone and drive. This is a wake-up call for good parenting."

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