I’ve discussed in this space previously how big skills and knowledge gaps are developing among teenage drivers. And I’ve also talked about how distracted driving is becoming a major problem among members of the younger generation, too.
That’s a not a good combination.
More worrisome, though, are the results of a new online survey of 2,000 teenagers conducted by Driving-Tests.org as those kids prepared for their driving exams. Some 62.9% of the teenagers polled reported that their parents are texting while driving with their teens in the car – not exactly something you want to learn, considering that many states are now making parents the primary driver trainer in the household; like mine.
Andrei Zakhareuski, founder of Driving-Tests.org, believes such parental behavior is “setting a potentially fatal example” as 82% of the teenagers in the firm’s survey said they’ve learned how to drive by observing their parents' driving habits.
[It’s interesting to note, too, that 65.4% of the teenagers in that poll also characterized “texting and driving” as “the worst habit” facing teen drivers today.]
“The findings reinforce not only the need for parents to set a positive example and put their phone down while they drive, but to also understand the tremendous positive and negative impact their driving habits can have on the teenaged drivers in their household, Zakhareuski stressed.
"We want to help teens become safer drivers and help parents understand their role in the process,” he said.
Consider these facts if you will:
- Motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- In 2013, 2,614 teen drivers were killed in vehicle crashes, with an estimated 130,000 injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- In 2013, some 3,154 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving, according to NHTSA’s data. With on average some 30,000 lives lost to roadway crashes every year in America, that means distracted driving is the root cause of over 10% of those fatalities.
- NHTSA also noted that nearly 40% of new drivers fail their written exams the first time they take them.
Why trucking should be concerned is twofold.
First, these “younger drivers” form the labor pool from which the next generation of truck drivers will emerge (though the growing shortage of truck drivers seems to indicate many are taking a pass on piloting big rigs for a living.)
Thus, second, if they feel texting and driving is OK while operating a car, they will probably feel the same about doing so in a commercial vehicle.
Let’s hope, then, that we can change the perspective on all of that.