Teens still distracted behind the wheel, NSC survey shows

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Teens are willing to engage in unsafe driving behaviors, including talking on a cell phone and texting while behind the wheel, even though consequences from those risks are well-established, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the National Safety Council.

NSC surveyed more than 1,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 17 in May about their behaviors while driving, including time spent at stop signs or stoplights and other driving situations. Among the findings:

  • 26 percent of teens said they “often” take a phone call while driving, and 30 percent reported doing so “occasionally.”
  • 19 percent said they often text while driving, and 24 percent said they do so occasionally.
  • 15 percent said they often use social media while behind the wheel, and 20 percent said they do so occasionally.
  • 13 percent said they often check email while driving, and 14 percent said they do so occasionally.

When asked about technology-related distractions involving other drivers, 24 percent of teens said they had a friend or relative who had been injured or killed in a distraction-related crash. In addition, 13 percent said they had been in a crash involving a distracted driver, 42 percent were almost in a crash and 61 percent said they felt at risk.

“The constant push to stay connected is a huge risk to all drivers, but as our survey indicates, teens are particularly susceptible,” Kelly Nantel, vice president of communications and advocacy at NSC, said in a press release. “We know these distractions can be deadly, so parents – who really do have the greatest influence over their teens – need to lead by example. Let your kids know only one thing matters behind the wheel: just drive.”