Survey: Teens drive while distracted

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A teen driving survey of 5,665 adolescents indicates what truckers already know: Too many teens drive when distracted or under hazardous conditions, such as when they’re tired or emotional.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm called their National Teen Driver Survey the most comprehensive ever.

The top killer of U.S. adolescents is motor vehicle crashes. Despite increased awareness of the importance of seat belts and the dangers of drinking and driving, teen vehicle injuries and deaths continue unabated.

Still, teen drivers are caught in a Catch-22: The more they drive, the more chances they have of crashing, but the best way to reduce accident risk is for them to gain experience by driving.

The survey indicated:

  • Nearly three-fourths of ninth- through 11th-graders are learning to drive or are already driving.
  • More than half of ninth-graders say they drive.
  • Two-thirds of 11th-graders report driving on their own.
  • Only 10 percent of 11th-graders don’t drive.
  • Cell phone use is high among adolescents. Forty-eight percent say they talk on phones at least part of the time while driving. More than 80 percent of drivers report owning a cell phone.

    Ninety percent of teens have seen peers driving while fatigued, and 90 percent have noticed passenger behavior that distracts the teen driver.

    Still, parents are not without influence. Sixty-six percent of teens said they care what their parents think about their cell-phone use and driving. Nearly 60 percent learned to drive from their parents, and 39 percent said their parents have total financial responsibility for their driving, including fuel and maintenance.