Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teenagers, Texting And Driving: The News Gets Worse

Can we all agree that this man is probably
not very much fun to spend time with?
On my drive home from work, I looked in my rearview mirror and spotted a woman in an SUV directly behind me staring at her iPhone. We were at a stoplight, and she was resting her hand on the steering wheel while holding her phone in the Two O'Clock position and staring directly at it. It almost looked like she was taking a picture of me. In retrospect, she might have been ogling the Tesla Roadster that was at the same light right beside me. Although, my Camry is fairly intriguing, so I'm not completely sure.

Whatever she was doing on her phone, she did not seem to care that anyone saw her. Even with all of the new research showing how dangerous it is to drive while distracted, this lady did not mind broadcasting to all those around her that she might as well have been blind drunk.

That incident got me thinking about a study highlighted in the July/August issue of the American Psychological Association's Monitor on Psychology. In the study published in the June issue of Pediatrics, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that teenagers who text while driving also take other dangerous risks behind the wheel. For example, they are more likely to drive drunk, be a passenger in a car where someone is driving drunk, and skip wearing a seatbelt.

Although the study only focused on teens, it makes me wonder if adults who text while driving take other risks as well.

What are your thoughts? Have you ridden in cars with drivers who text? Do those same drivers take other risks? How old are they?

And, for those of you with kids who drive--what do you do to keep your kids from using their phones while driving? If you discover they text while driving, have you thought about having a frank conversation with them about the other risks they take behind the wheel?

Interestingly, the woman in the SUV put her phone away as soon as the light turned green. She made the same series of turns as I did and stayed directly behind me for several miles. I never saw her get her phone out again.

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


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