Study: Teen Drivers Use Phones Because Parents Won't Stop Calling

Aug 08, 2014 04:15 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Parents may lecture their teenagers about not talking on the phone while driving, but they're also calling their kids a lot.

More than half of 408 teens who participated in a new study said that they were talking on the phone to their mom or dad, USA TODAY reported.

Presented Friday at the American Psychological Association's annual convention, the findings had interviews or a survey with teen drivers from 31 states. The participants, who were aged between 15 and 18, were questioned about talking and texting habits while at the wheel.

Distracted driving is linked to 11 percent of fatal crashes among teen drivers and is the No. 1 cause of crashes for drivers of all ages, according to a 2013 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Young drivers have a difficult time avoiding answering a parent's call since it might cause concern.

"Teens told us parents really expected to keep track of them, and they are expected to answer the phone if the parent calls. In some cases, the parent might continue to call until the teen answers," said Noelle LaVoie, a psychologist in Petaluma, Calif., as quoted by USA TODAY.

The study found that 53 percent of teens who used the phone while driving were talking with a parent, while 46 percent chatted with a friend.

Teens who sent text messages from the road were more likely to text friends; however, parents were still clearly linked to their phone use.

"It was just very surprising to see how directly parents are involved," LaVoie said. "What we do know for sure is if parents would not call their teens while they're (kids) driving, it would reduce teen distracted driving."

Another study presented at the same conference found that 89 percent of teen drivers made calls while at the wheel and 79 percent sent texts.

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