In a bid to keeping teenagers safe on roads, given that they are increasingly involved in car crashes in the US, a team of researchers from the University Of Pennsylvania set out to make an appreciation of the latter’s perspective. The study is published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.
The two authors, Catherine McDonald, and Marilyn (Lynn) Sommers, organised focus groups in order to glean the relevant data from a group of 30 teenagers who had been driving for around a year. The aim was to hear out what the teens had to say; as Sommers points out, what is thought of teens driving is very different from what the teenagers themselves actually think.
It was found that the use of mobile phones while driving was particularly pertinent to the teenagers. The authors report that while the teens understand the hazards of texting when behind the wheel, they still persist in doing so. Also, if some would not actually text while driving, they might check their phone at a red light.
Furthermore, the responses of the teenagers also show that mobile phone use when driving is a broader category: it includes texting, checking social media, and taking a picture of a fellow passenger. The latter two were not considered as “texting while driving”.
The person at the other end of the phone also mattered as to whether the teenagers would actually use their phone: for instance, parents and a significant other would generally have a reply, while others might not cause them to text or call.
Another factor the researchers examined was the effect of having passengers in the vehicle. Sommers explains that a greater number of passenger is linked with an increased risk of a crash.
The authors now look forward to coming up with solutions so that the teenagers change their behaviours. They believe that forbidding them from doing risky actions will not help. Rather, “partnering with them” to ensure their safety is a better alternative, according to Sommers.