Study suggests many parents model unsafe distracted driving habits

Research suggests many parents engage in inattentive driving habits in front of their kids, which may contribute to the problem of teen distracted driving.

Distracted driving has become a prevalent and problematic habit among teenagers in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. According to CNN, one recent survey of 2,500 teens found that 70 percent admit to using cellphone apps while they are behind the wheel. With texting and phone calls factored in, the overall rate of distracted driving among teenagers is likely even higher.

The factors that cause teenagers to engage in these dangerous behaviors may be varied. However, research increasingly suggests that the habits parents engage in while driving may be one significant contributor to this serious problem.

Harmful parental habits

As CNN reports, research indicates that distracted driving is not uncommon among parents. About half of parents admit to checking their phones while driving, and a recent survey reveals that a staggering 95 percent of parents who drive while distracted do so in front of their teenagers. Furthermore, over 50 percent of teens have witnessed their parents driving distracted.

This is problematic because teenagers often emulate the behaviors that they see their parents and other adults engage in. Witnessing a parent disregard state laws may give teens the impression that distracted driving is an acceptable or even safe choice. This misconception may have catastrophic consequences for teens as well as other motorists.

Toll of distracted teen drivers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving plays a role in thousands of injuries and deaths each year. In 2013, which is the last year with CDC data available, over 420,000 people sustained injuries in distracted driving crashes. Altogether, these crashes represented nearly one-fifth of all injury accidents.

Research shows that teenagers are not the only distracted drivers. They do contribute significantly to serious inattention-related accidents, however. Nationally, teens are involved in a higher proportion of fatal distracted driving accidents than drivers in any other age group.

Distraction as a form of negligence

Unfortunately, the questionable decisions that teenagers and other drivers make may have devastating consequences for other motorists. However, in these cases, legal remedies may be available. A driver who causes an injurious or fatal auto accident while violating state traffic laws may be found negligent and held liable for the associated damages. In Louisiana, motorists may be considered negligent if they fail to comply with the following distracted driving laws:

  • All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving.
  • Drivers who hold intermediate and learner licenses are not permitted to use handheld cellphones while at the wheel.
  • Drivers who have held licenses for less than one year are banned from using any type of cellphone while driving.

Even if a driver's actions do not violate these laws, he or she may be found negligent for engaging in an unnecessarily risky behavior that could be expected to endanger other motorists.

For further information, people who have suffered harm in distraction-related accidents may benefit from reviewing their rights and legal options with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help a person assess liability and pursue appropriate recourse from the at-fault driver.