When it comes to teenage driving, most parents would probably prefer their teens drive by themselves, as opposed to having a car full of other teenagers to distract them. But a Consumer Reports survey shows that having peers in the car can actually keep teenage drivers from being distracted by cell phone use or texting.
Though the report shows that younger drivers are less likely to text or use cell phones when driving, many teens surveyed believed that distracted driving isn't really a big danger.
Only 36 percent of survey participants between the ages of 18 to 29 admitted to being concerned with the issue of distracted driving. A mere 30 percent felt it was very dangerous to use a handheld phone while driving, while 53 percent of respondents aged 30 or older said distracted driving is extremely problematic.
But more people believed that texting was a harmful act, as 76 percent felt that texting while driving is very dangerous, and 83 percent said to be in favor of distracted driving laws when it came to texting. This may be a response to national efforts by several organizations to build awareness of texting while driving and highlight its dangers.
The report also included a series of interviews conducted by Consumer Reports, that asked teen drivers what they thought needed to be done to eliminate texting and cell phone use while driving. Their suggestions included:
"Make it safe and acceptable to pull over to do such tasks."
"Stiffer penalties, parents applying consequences for minors, and more education/awareness programs."
"Adults don't discipline like it's a problem; parents are blind to it. They tell us do not drink and drive, but don't say do not use the phone."
"I think that apps ... that prohibit a user from receiving or sending text messages while traveling over 10 mph are very helpful and should be more widely used."
"Parents should let us kids have a Bluetooth headset so we wouldn't be tempted to use our phones and take a hand off the steering wheel."
"I know that my friend texts a lot while she's driving, but whenever I'm in her car, I make her give me the phone and tell me what she wants me to write. ...Peer pressure is such a powerful force when you have it in your corner."
In a written statement, Rik Paul, Consumer Reports auto editor said "Our survey showed that while far too many young people are driving while distracted, they are less likely to do so when their parents, friends or siblings set a good example."
Additional findings in the report showed that, 84 percent of younger drivers saw other younger drivers talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel, and 71 percent said they've witnessed teenagers texting while driving.
Also, 48 percent of respondents witnessed their parents talking on handheld phones while driving, 15 percent saw their parents texting, and 8 percent of the respondents even admitted to using a smartphone app while behind the wheel.
The distracted driver survey was conducted online, between Nov. 23, 2011 to Dec. 13, 2011. A total of 1,049 questionnaires were filled out by adults ranging from 16 to 21.