The longstanding belief has been that, the more teenagers stuffed into a car, the higher the risk of that car becoming involved in a car accident. A new survey is challenging this assumption, though, suggesting instead that the presence of other teens in a vehicle can deter the driver from using his or her cell phone and otherwise being distracted while driving
The survey, which was conducted by Consumer Reports and sampled more than 1,000 individuals between the ages of 16 and 21, suggests that choosing teen passengers over cell phone use may be a means of taking the lesser of two evils.
In the survey, 47 percent of the drivers admitted to handling a cell phone while driving, and 27 percent said they frequently text while driving, even though the vast majority of respondents said they are afraid of the consequences of distracted driving.
Car crash experts note that teens in Ohio and elsewhere across the country may be less distracted when driving others because they do not have their hands, eyes and cognition distracted by a cell phone. But an editor of Consumer Reports notes a somewhat surprising find: Forty-nine percent of teen drivers had requested their peers to put down cell phones while driving to reduce the risk of distracted driving.
The report based on the study also noted that 48 percent of teens surveyed said they had seen their parents use a cell phone while driving, indicating that parents may not be doing a good enough job serving as an example of safe driving to their children.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Can teens prevent friends from texting and driving?" Alexia Elajalde-Ruiz, May 30, 2012