Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” The idea holds up in so many aspects of life. We only improve at something once we do it, over and over again. It’s ironic that we must do things, fail at them, learn from them and do them again before we become knowledgeable and experienced enough to be considered competent.
The fact is our youngest drivers are our least experienced. Thus, they are generally the group most prone to making rookie mistakes. That’s a scary thought for parents. In fact, it’s a scary thought for all of us, since we constantly share the roads with young drivers.
More than any other generation before, young people are deeply connected to their mobile devices, and they find it difficult to put cell phones away when behind the wheel. They are also less likely than older, more experienced drivers to think that distracted driving is unacceptable.
A recent report from AAA found that 88% of young drivers engaged in at least one reckless behavior while driving in the previous month. Those behaviors include texting while driving, running red lights and speeding. According to AAA, drivers ages 19 to 24 were 1.6 times as likely as other age groups to report reading a text message or emailing while driving, and nearly twice as likely to report typing or sending a text message or email while driving.
Young people are not only more likely to text or email while driving, they are also more likely to think that doing so is okay. They are less likely to support legislation intended to reduce distracted driving. These findings are in line with other research. For example, a study from 2012 found that 77 percent of young people were confident that they could text while driving, and 55 percent said texting while driving was easy.
To Be Fair, Distraction Goes Beyond Young People. Young drivers might be more susceptible to the temptations of texting while driving, but the problem has become widespread among other age groups, too.
Nearly half of teens surveyed said they have seen parents talking on a cell phone while driving, which is another form of distraction. Twenty percent of surveyed drivers (across all age groups) admitted to surfing the internet while driving. One 2016 survey found that over half of parents admitted checking their phones while driving.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do to reduce distraction among younger drivers is to lead by example. Teach your children that it is not okay to engage on your mobile device while driving, and show them that you will also follow that advice.