Social influences on young drivers' texting behavior while driving
Bejarano Rodriguez, Maria C.
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Despite the advances that have been made to enhance vehicular safety, motor vehicle accidents remain one of the greatest public safety concerns in the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 there were 32,885 people killed in an estimated 5,419,000 police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes (NHTSA, 2010). Some of these accidents could be prevented if people adopt safer driving habits. Texting behind the wheel is especially an issue among teenagers since text messaging has become the preferred method of communications among teenagers. There is some research that suggests drivers can be influenced by the behavior of their parents or friends. But most of this research has been focused on cell phone use when driving. There is limited research in regards to texting behind the wheel. An anonymous online survey was utilized to collect data from 18-24 year olds, regarding their texting and driving behavior and their parents' and friends' behavior. This survey was distributed through the Steven's Driving Facebook page. 441 responses were collected. The results showed that 81.3 % of young drivers reported texting and driving, which agrees with previous literature. Furthermore, no differences were found in the texting and driving behavior of young drivers of different genders and ages. Drivers, between the age of 18 and 24, that currently text and drive are 2.24 times more likely to have observed their parents texting and driving prior to having their license. Also, young drivers that engage in texting while driving are, 3.8 times more likely to have seen their friends also text and drive. Specifically, young drivers in all three age groups, 18-19, 20-21 and 22-24 are 3.02, 4.11 and 4.0 times more likely to have friends that currently text then those that do not. The influence of peers on texting and driving continue to be a problem. More studies need to be performed on the influence parents have on their children's texting and driving behaviors. Public awareness campaigns need to be developed that focus on telling parents not to text and drive especially when in the presence of their children.