Though it is often cited as a major contributor to unsafe behavior among teens, peer pressure can also be a tool for positive change. Consumer Reports recently released a study indicating that peer pressure is increasingly being used to stop teen drivers from texting while driving. While teen drivers still suffer elevated rates of fatal car crashes, particularly when other teens are in the car with them, the results might show that efforts to accurately portray the dangers of distracted driving are working.
There is still much work to be done in combating the epidemic of texting while driving. Consumer Reports foudn that as many as 49 percent of teens have asked teen driver peers to stop using their cell phones while behind the wheel. Teen passengers still lag behind passengers 20 years old and older in their willingness to speak up about the dangers of cell phone use and driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has again reported that each teen passenger increases the odds of a teen driver being involved a fatal accident significantly. Several states have gone as far as making it illegal for teen drivers to transport teen passengers. The distraction appears too great for many teen drivers to maintain safe driving practices.
The efforts to spread the word about the dangers of cell phone use by drivers could be aided by parents. The Consumer Reports survey indicated that nearly half of teen drivers have witnessed their parents using cell phones while driving. Teen drivers might be more willing to eliminate distractions if their parents first set the example.
Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Distracted driving is a large contributor to the problem, as many teens lack the judgment to appreciate the danger of dividing one's attention while operating a motor vehicle. Anything that can be done to encourage teens to practice safe driving by eliminating distractions is a positive. Hopefully teens can help convince their friends that no text message or phone call is worth the risk of taking their focus off of the important task of driving.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Can teens prevent friends from texting and driving?," by Alexia Elajalde-Ruiz, 30 May 2012