Teenagers behind the wheel can be distracted by their cell phones. According to The Washington Post, teens take after their parents when it comes to texting. In fact, teens who said they see parents on their phones also admitted to using phones while operating their cars.
The problem is because so many people text while they drive, many teens underestimate and disregard the risk of phone use while driving. The Post said teens responding to a survey think adults text "all the time." Even as these young people are told texting is dangerous, they see people routinely on their phones and they are regularly on the phones themselves. Each time they are distracted (or see someone distracted) and no accident happens, they become more and more lax about the very real dangers phones can present when it comes to increasing the risk of car accidents.
Unfortunately, even teens who do not use their phones while driving can face an increased risk of being in an accident if their phone is simply on. Teens and other motorists can be distracted if their phone alerts or notifies them about an incoming call or text message. The mind wandering prompted by such notifications from a cell phone can be just as much of a mental distraction as actually picking up the phone to call or text someone, according to a recent study.
Notifications are a Distraction to Teens and Other Motorists
Such troubling news about cell phone notifications comes from a recent study by Florida State University. The study is one of the first of its kind to assess the impact of phone notifications on the brain's ability to focus on completion of complex tasks. Both vibrations and audible alerts, including quiet alarms or dings, were found to prompt the mind to wander and to take focus away from the road, making drivers less capable of averting a collision and less cognizant of what is going on around them.
While all drivers are vulnerable to risks caused by a phone notification, teens may be especially distracted by an alert. This is because teens indicate they feel pressure to respond immediately to text messages from parents. Claims Journal reports a full 19 percent of teenagers think their parents expect a reply to a text within one minute. As a result, many teens fear they will be punished by their parents if they do not reply to a text right away. While parents generally don't expect their teens to text when driving, just receiving notification of a text from a parent can make a young person anxious and take attention away from safely operating the vehicle.
There are ways to mitigate the dangers from cell phones in the car. Teens and other motorists should turn off all alerts, including vibration, when driving. If desired, an auto reply can be set up to alert senders of calls and messages to the fact that the phone's owner is driving and not available. This step would eliminate concern teenagers may have about whether their parents expect a prompt reply to a text.